'This Is Not An Experiment'
Pixel Media has already established itself as one of Asia’s most successful digital sales houses since launching in Hong Kong nearly ten years ago. However, a digital publishing division unveiled earlier this year has seen the group move into a new area — content.
It’s a bold and unusual move from a company that specializes in sales, but progress so far has been promising.
Pixel has already been busy developing verticals on women, luxury, movies and health for MSN in Hong Kong through a mix of self-produced material, syndication deals with local media companies and branded content partnerships that are co-funded by advertisers.
Pixel has also developed a group buying section for MSN through an exclusive agreement with Groupon. An in-house editorial team has grown from two people to six since the unit was launched in February.
Pixel’s new content arm only services long-term ad sales partner MSN Hong Kong at the moment, but could branch out into new areas, speculates Pixel Media’s CEO, Kevin Huang.
“It’s not an experiment, it’s a business we’re very much committed to,” he explains.
“We may roll this out in another market in one form or another, but we’ll take a few more months or even a year to evaluate it and understand the business.”
MSN has struck a number of local content alliances in Asia-Pacific, including deals with major broadcasters in Australia and Singapore as well as tying up with a magazine publisher in Malaysia.
Extending its ad sales relationship in Hong Kong into content is a different kind of venture, but Huang argues that Pixel is well-placed to manage content and audience development for the portal.
Publishers and broadcasters are often reluctant to move too much content online in order to protect traditional revenue streams, he says. Pixel, on the other hand, has more freedom to pursue content initiatives and apply its local market expertise.
“We’re trying to be different in terms of content. I wouldn’t say it came easy. We understood what the market needs and what the market wants, and we built on it.”
One area in particular Huang wants to nurture is video, a potential growth segment where premium inventory in Hong Kong remains limited.
Pixel has already developed branded entertainment videos for MSN Hong Kong for advertisers such as Macau Tourism Board and Shiseido, and is planning to create original videos in 2012.
“Right now in Hong Kong, there are only about three outlets where advertisers will buy a pre-roll ad,” he notes.
Categories such as luxury, fashion and cosmetics have been stepping up online adspend in Hong Kong over the last three years or so, but online video helps attracts budgets from traditional TV advertisers.
“We’re seeing some IT brands and technology brands, but we’re also seeing a lot of interest from FMCGs, who are buying online video like they’re buying TV ads,” Huang adds.
This is an edited extract from content published in the Q3 2011 edition of The Asia Media Journal. The latest issue of The Asia Media Journal is available in full here.