The Straits Times Classified App bags award for innovation

The Straits Times Classified App bags award for innovation

It may look like a common digital replica of a newspaper but there is more than what meets the eye in this first of its kind of tablet and smartphone app in the world.

The Straits Times Classified app allows users to search for relevant ads that they are looking for in the e-paper version of the newspaper.

That's not all, once an ad has been found, all users need to do is to touch the ad on the screen and they can immediately access the information listed in the ad, such as by calling the advertiser, visit their websites or send them a message.

They can also save or share the complete ad easily with their friends via email, messages or social media.

Another new feature of the application is that families and friends who place obituaries for their loved ones in The Straits Times can now share the announcement with their families and friends via e-mail, SMS, messaging and social media apps.

Readers can also search for ads published in the past seven days.

The patent-pending innovation developed by Singapore Press Holdings won the Best Innovation for Advertising Award at the Singapore Business Review Listed Companies Awards 2015 held at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on Thursday. The event was held to honour and recognise public listed companies in Singapore.

Panel judge, Mr Ernest Kan, who is Deloitte Singapore's Chief of Operations for clients and markets said: "This app impressed the judges with its very user friendly features which will draw more readers and advertisers. SPH is blazing the trail by enhancing its print media with such cutting edge technology."

The app was launched last September and the number of downloads will reach 90,000 soon. The app with its features to store, call, message, email or share the ads is used 140 times daily on average. Its search function performs 100 searches daily.

The innovative technology for e-paper is developed by SPH's operations and technology teams headed by Mr Jerry Siah and Mr Wong Zung En. Mr Siah, the brainchild behind the app, said: "When we conceptualised the app years ago, we wanted to leverage on technology to carry out what readers would do when they read our print ads. Not only have we accomplished that, we added on the ability for our Classified print ads to reach a wider audience on the internet. The award is a recognition of the innovation that we have brought to the print advertising media."

Mr Wong, the IT Project Manager, said: "Winning the award is an affirmation for everyone involved in this project. Through the use of technology, we are constantly looking at more innovative ways to integrate the experience we have in the digital world into the content we see on print."

Mr Tan Ooi Boon, Head of SPH's Integrated Sales and Print Classified and Deputy Head of SPH's Marketing Division, said: "This is but an example of our effort to use innovation and creativity to serve our readers and customers better. We will constantly review and look for ways to improve our services so that we can provide a pleasant experience to all our customers.

"It is not about print or digital but what goes in there - the content and our services - that will matter at the end of the day. We do not need our customers to choose and we are delighted to let them have everything and the best services that they can get from SPH." For advertisers, the app carries much appeal by providing added value to both advertisers and consumers.

PropNex Chief Executive Mr Mohamed Ismail said: "The Straits Times Classified app demonstrates how SPH anticipates the changing needs of its customers and readers. Advertisers place ads in newspapers to get connected to its readers who are quality prospects.

This app gives greater value to advertisers by making this connection a matter of ease.

Readers like Mr Darrel Kueh, 37, a division manager, welcome the capability of the app. "This app offers a lot of convenience to the readers. It is time-saving and very useful. I can find products or services and make enquiries easily with just a few taps on my mobile phone. There is no hassle of manually keying in the advertiser's number in order to dial. All I have to do is tap on the advertisement I am interested in and the number pops up. And the app presents me with several options on how I want to connect to the advertiser. I can send an SMS, call or email," he said.

The Straits Times Classified app can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android devices respectively. The app gives readers access to the current issue and those in the past seven days of the Straits Times Classified and Obituaries.

"Ultimately the best judge of our product is actually our customers. Please do continue to tell us how we can do better so that we can serve you better," said Mr Tan, who welcomes readers to write to him directly at ooiboon@sph.com.sg

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