Riding high on the growing appetite for digital content in Malaysia, Rev Asia Holdings has spelt out its strategy for growth in 2017: Wooing Malay language audience and focussing on video content.
Rev Asia, that emerged in 2013 out of a merger between Catcha Media Bhd and Says.com, later came to acquire few other brands among which were the Malay language portal Ohbulan.com and most recently in 2015 two Chinese language social news and content websites, Viralcham and Rojaklah.
“Currently we are working on the Malay audience segment. Online consumption of digital content has emerged in the online Malay population…Malay population segment will be our key focus to drive growth in 2017 among the segments,” Rev Asia Managing Director Voon Tze Khay popularly known as Tze Khay told DEALSTREETASIA in a recent interaction.
Also, with lot of initiatives from the Malaysian government to increase broadband services not just to cities but to rural areas, more and more consumers who live outside the city — largely Malay speaking — will be more connected to online, Tze Khay said. “This will lead to a generation who will be more on mobile. Having said that, if there are opportunities around in other languages we will consider that,” he added.
In fact, the company acquired three Malay language content websites Siraplimau, Myresipi and Kongsiresepi for $2.65 million on December 23. While Siraplimau is a lifestyle portal, Myresipi and Kongsiresepi are portals for people to share their stories on food and cooking.
“The acquisition will add to the audience and help widen the company’s distribution channel to better serve advertisers and customers, and deliver growth rates that correspond to the size of Malaysia’s growing revenue in sponsored content,” the company had said after the acquisition.
Among REV Asia brands are fast growing social news website SAYS.com, ASEAN’s leading social distribution platform 8Share and nightlife and street culture brand JUICE. The company also has a region-wide content and advertising partnership with Business Insider Inc. for Business Insider websites in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Constantly looking for a match
As a company that focuses on growth through acquisitions along with organic moves, Rev Asia is consistently working on deals.
“What we look at (while acquiring) — The portal needs to fit in well with the overarching content strategy of REV that we have. It should be among the largest social news portals in Malaysia and should be high traffic website that draws about 500,000-600,000 unique visitors. So we look at from the content and audience size point of view,” Tze Khay said.
Moreover, for being a Rev Asia asset, it should have a viral content streak. Then the company looks into different verticals– women, family, lifestyle or technology. “They need to first qualify as a social news viral content and then we look at the vertical,” he said.
Rev Asia gets its revenue from content distribution (8share), sponsored content contributes and online display advertisements.Viral content plays a dominant role in all these income streams.
The “baby-steps” for Asean dream
At the time of merger with Says.com, Rev Asia had said it was going to change the digital scene in South East Asia and the company has already initiated some moves in that direction.
In 2015, it launched Says.com in Indonesia and Philippines and also got a presence for 8share.com.
“We have already taken baby-steps to expand in the region. We singled out Indonesia and Philippines and we have a small team that operates there,” said Tze Khay.
The firm is also looking for strategic partners to work with in these countries. In fact, the partnership could be through an acquisition, merger or some local company buying a larger stake in Rev’s assets.
However, the company is clear on one point that it wants to always “dominate and focus” on Malaysia. “It is good to be in touch with the markets in these countries at an early stage,” he pointed out.
Focus on videos in 2017 for organic growth
“In 2017 we will focus on four to five distinct pillars among which the first one will be videos. As content consumption grows we are seeing that users are consuming more video content…so video would be the key strategy that REV will employ to increase eyeballs and to monetize,” Tze Khay told the portal.
Looking at the past few months, many social websites like Facebook have grown their video content which is being used by consumers and corporates to spread the message they want to disseminate in the market.
The second pillar in its strategy is mobile. “REV today monetizes the revenue based on sponsored content for brands, story format or video format. It does not matter where the content is generated, we ensure that the content goes further up in the social media seen to be able to reach out to customers”.
However, the company is witnessing among its assets that 60 per cent of traffic is consumed by users on mobile phone. “2017 will be a year where we will focus more on how we can monetize this inventories across all the assets that REV operates into the three language segments,” Tze Khay said.
Other than that, the company will also focus on SMEs and events as it expects them to be contributing positively for the revenue generation in the coming year.