REV Asia eyes 50% growth in online Malay audience

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 10, 2017.


KUALA LUMPUR: REV Asia Bhd, which bought three popular Malay content websites recently, is targeting at least a 50% growth in its Malay segment audience base by the end of this year, as it capitalises on the growing appetite for digital content in Malaysia.

“This year, we will be focusing much of our efforts on growing our Malay audience reach,” said its general manager Voon Tze Khay in a recent interview with The Edge Financial Daily.

“We will be transfering our knowledge [from the experience of managing] to the [new] Malay websites,” he said, noting that there is an emerging Malay population in the online segment as a result of the federal government’s National Broadband Initiative, which aims to provide rural areas with high-speed Internet access.

“This would be one of our key focus areas for growth this year,” said Voon, adding that the company will add value to the three recently acquired sites by producing more video content to draw the public’s eyeballs.

“Internet content consumption trends have changed over the past 12 to 24 months. Video content has been increasingly drawing the appetite of the millenials — the group that shapes the way content is consumed on the Internet,” he added.

“Video is the key strategy growth area for the group. We will capitalise on our strength to produce more videos that people are interested in,” he said.

REV Asia on Dec 23 last year announced the acquisition of three Malay content websites — Siraplimau, Myresipi and Kongsiresepi — with their respective domains, for RM2.65 million, to further enhance its dominant position in the emerging Malay-speaking online community.

Citing Google Analytics data, the digital media group said a total of 5.6 million page views and 1.7 million unique visitors were registered across, and as of November 2016.

Prior to that, REV Asia also bought two popular Chinese social news and content websites, namely Viralcham and Rojaklah, in August last year.

In addition, REV Asia owns and operates an established portfolio of online brands, including, JUICE and OhBulan!, with a combined reach of approximately five million people per month.

With the latest acquisition, Voon hoped the company’s audience reach could match Facebook’s in Malaysia within the next 24 months.

Citing Comscore data, he said, the company’s estimated five million audience reach in Malaysia is about half the number recorded by Facebook. He believed the company would be able to catch up with Facebook’s audience here, given the distictive growth pillars and competitive contents it has to offer.

Voon said the company had put four key strategies in place — video, mobile, content and services for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and event management — which he believed would bring the company to greater heights.

According to Voon, the company has seen that online content consumption patterns are largely driven by video, which is also being increasingly used by corporates to disseminate messages in the market.

“We will allocate more resources into building [our] video team and capitalising on the trends,” he said, adding that the company will also continue to enhance its content and service offerings for SMEs.

“At the moment, the majority of our Chinese web revenue is generated from SMEs,” said Voon, adding that there are over 700,000 SMEs in the country, which means REV Asia has a huge pool of potential collaborators to work with in terms of promoting their products and services on REV Asia’s network.

“We hope this could contribute positively to our revenue generation in the coming year,” he said. The company generates profit from sponsored contents, he added.

Meanwhile, the company is committed to growing its mobile business and has set up a special team to study the ways in which it can optimise its database of mobile users.

“At the moment, about 60% to 70% of our [content] users are derived from the mobile space. But we didn’t go deep enough to monetise it.

“It does not matter where the content is generated. We will ensure that the content goes further up in social media to reach out to customers,” he said.

Besides tapping its wide network reach, REV Asia is also into event management, an area which Voon said REV Asia will strive to be more active, following the sucessful hosting of events like Juice’s 14th Anniversary Party with Heineken, and the Best of the Years on Movies with over the past year.

“We believe our clients will be able to extract more value, and get better engagement with their audience and target market when the campaign has both online and offline elements,” he said.

Given all these strategies, Voon is optimistic that REV Asia would register a double-digit growth in its top- and bottom lines in the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2017.

In the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2016, the company’s net profit jumped 73% to RM13.21 million from RM7.63 million a year ago, due to a net gain of RM12.280 million from the dilution of its shares in its loss-making Australia-listed associate then, iCar Asia Ltd. Revenue also improved by some 45% to RM6.12 million from RM4.22 previously.

On overseas expansion, Voon said the company is facing some operational challenges and is looking at getting help from local tie-ups.

“It is the same as our operation in Malaysia. We must know the market in order to scale our business to the level we want. We are currently considering growing the overseas business with the help of local partners,” he shared.

On whether there would be more acquisitions or mergers, Voon said the company is always on the lookout for interesting deals. It is now considering buying a technology-related website going forward.

“The targeted portal should be a leading social news portal, with a huge audience size,” he added.

REV Asia shares settled unchanged at 61 sen on Wednesday, valuing the company at RM82.13 million. The stock has gained over 20% in the past 12 months.