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We are expanding digital platform, says Al-Harthi

Sayidaty’s pageviews have increased tenfold during the last 12 months. Free access to the content generates high readership, which provides revenue for the magazine, said Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, editor-in-chief of Sayidaty and Arab News, while explaining Sayidaty’s content philosophy and its effect to generate more revenue streams.
In a session, entitled ‘Free is what pays,’ at the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) at the Middle East Conference in Dubai, he said that his 32-year-old magazine has gone a long way to enjoy the success it does today.
“Sayidaty’s digital platform received more than 10 million hits during the last six months and it is still on the increase," said Al-Harthi.
“We are keen on new media and have been expanding our digital platform with many new ideas. Following the latest trends in digital media is a must to be No. 1,” Al-Harthi said.
“Our shift from traditional trends to modern digital media was precisely calculated and professionally planned, so the result has been favorable,” he further added.
“Sayidaty is customized according to the taste and pulse of readers. Our focus is quite balanced; we give due importance to both digital and net-based media.”
Al-Harthi maintained, however, that there won’t be enough income without the print edition, “hence we give great importance to the print edition.”
While elaborating his magazines market share in the Kingdom, Al-Harthi said the market share last year jumped from 35 per cent to 37 percent. He said that social media is not only the best tool for branding, but also an effective medium for increasing income and communicating with readers.
“We have specially trained staff who can work on multiple platforms and all members of staff have Twitter accounts and other interactive social networks,” he said.
“We have invested a lot in Facebook, Google and other new media tools. Sayidaty has one million Facebook readers and they visit the magazine website through Facebook. In addition, we have 100,000 followers on Twitter for different accounts for Sayidaty,” he elaborated.
“Within six weeks, Sayidaty is going to add further forums for readers,” he added.
Al-Harthi said that YouTube also serves as one of the main sources of revenue. “We have a lot of video content and we do campaign for different products, of which many are sponsored by different companies.
“We have received over half a million downloads through iPad and iPhone, which is a good indication. We have found that it is a good method for increasing revenue."
With regards online advertisements and revenue, Al-Harthi said that his magazine offers banners, advertorials, wide sponsorship, micro sites, online competitions, tailored applications, product displays and live streaming.
“In addition, we have several apps on different products that are linked to advertisements. The makeover app is one such example. There are companies to sponsor such apps and it is an outstanding source of revenue for us. Mobile advertising is also a good revenue source and Sayidaty has started to focus on this method of marketing.
“We always focus on content and ensure a sound connection with our audience,” he added.
Sayidaty follows 360 multi-publishing content production operations. “Abundance of content is a must so that content is available everywhere and readers have easy access to content through websites, TV, magazines and digital platforms. Content should remain unique, relevant, reader-focused and free. We always ensure these factors and that is the secret behind our success and that’s why we are number one both online and offline,” he said.
Meanwhile, a panel moderated by Cherilyn Ireton, executive director, World Editors Forum, WAN-IFRA conferred on building audiences and influence in a digital world.
Apart from Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi; Scott Armstrong, Web Editor of The National; Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Mulhem, assistant deputy minister for R&D, Ministry of Culture and Information in KSA; Ebrahim Hameed, IT and marketing manager at Al-Wasat, Bahrain; and Peter Littger, Germany country director for Innovation International Media Consulting Group; also took part in the discussion.
Al-Harthi said that Sayidaty operates a clean policy on advertorials. “We always clearly mention what is an advertisement and what is content,” he said.
Littger, a Berlin-based journalist and country director for Innovation, told Arab News that a digital platform with a subscription package is a better idea for the Middle East region. “It will increase the revenue of publications,” he said.
Media expert Grzegorz Piechota, who comes from Poland in central Europe, where advertising on the Internet is already three times as big as on newspapers, elaborated on how to succeed in the digital world.
Grzegorz Piechota’s newspaper company runs a profitable digital business of over 200 websites that reaches 60 percent of all Internet users in his country.

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