SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings' Print Classified has unveiled a new reader-friendly technology that will allow users to search through the e-paper version of The Straits Times Classified that is currently available free on mobile apps for both tablets and smartphones on iOS platform.
For readers who are too busy to browse through the Classified pages, they can use The Straits Times Classified mobile apps to search for the items or services that they are looking for.
For instance, if a reader is looking for plumbing services, they can search using the keyword "plumbing" and all advertisements that contain this word will be highlighted for their attention.
Similarly, if they are looking for a property in Orchard Road, the keyword will throw up all the relevant ads so that they can go through them one by one.
With a simple touch, they can also copy or share the entire ad through various means such as email, phone message or via the social media as long as the related apps are installed on their mobile devices.
Mr Leslie Fong, Senior Executive Vice President of SPH's Marketing Division, noted that while newspapers are facing the challenges from digital advertising which is seen as a cheaper alternative, the days of print advertising are by no means numbered.
"Print advertisements will continue to be relevant, especially if we continue to make them exciting and impactful, through the use of innovative and creative ideas. The introduction of this new service is an example of how we make use of technology to enable our print advertisers to reach out to an even larger audience easily. So now looking for things to buy in the Classified section will be easy - with the search function, you can see all the relevant ads. You can even forward the ads with ease for family members, staff or friends to follow up on the leads."
"From our own readership data, we have found that many of our readers enjoy the look and feel of the newspaper and thus, they prefer to read the e-paper version of The Straits Times even when they are browsing through their mobile devices. As this is our own technology, there is a plan to incorporate this to our news mobile apps so that readers can even search for relevant stories and information in our newspapers."
The new functions, which have been submitted to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), are invented in-house by Mr Jerry Siah Eng Kiat, the Head of Operations of Print Classified and Mr Wong Zung En, Senior Project Lead of the Information Technology Division.
"We try to mimic the behaviour of readers of our print products on our digital platform. Readers store and share interesting advertisements found on our newspapers by cutting it out and passing it on to others. We made it convenient for our readers to do so digitally by just one touch of the selected advertisement. Knowing that it may be cumbersome to scan through all the pages to locate for any advertisement of interests, we leverage on technology to do the search and present the results in the same way as if someone is pointing out the advertisement of interests to you within seconds," Mr Siah said.
"Our methodology presents the search results on the digital pages without compromising the placement of the advertisements on the page or its contents. Readers could store and share the advertisements but the layout and content of the advertisements are preserved in its original form the way advertisers would have wanted it to be," Mr Wong added.
Mr Tan Ooi Boon, Head of SPH Print Classified, said the introduction of the new service underscored the team's mission to help all their customers and readers to "find, buy and sell" their products easily.
"Our mission is to create an effective and relevant marketplace that will serve our buying needs of all customers well. By allowing our customers to search for our pages easily via our free mobile apps, we hope to bring back younger customers who have lost touch with the newspapers and even new readers who will find the new service to be very convenient."
"There is still much we can do and we would be delighted if our readers and customers continue to let us know how we can serve you better, said Mr Tan, adding that readers can channel their feedback or suggestions to him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com.
The new version of the Classified app is available for free on iOS platform currently.
Those who have previously downloaded the app should upgrade the app to enjoy the new service. The Android version will be available in future.
Users may download the app on Apple App Store using keyword "SPH Classified".
Readers who have queries can call 6319 5900 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.