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Back emerges as the only Singapore publisher to win funding from Google innovation challenge

Singapore, 27 March 2019 – zaobao.sgthe digital news platform of Chinese-language dailies Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily, has been named the only Singapore winner of the first Asia-Pacific Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge.


The Chinese digital news platform has been awarded over S$200,000 (US$150,000) in funding from the Google challenge for its innovative proposal to increase engagement with readers. It aims to attract more users to sign up and read news using a new gamified membership system.


Under this project, non-subscribing guest readers to will gain access to premium content by performing gamified, non-monetary based actions to accrue points for premium content access or gifts. For instance, readers could watch a video advertisement or read a certain number of free articles in order to “unlock” access to subscriber-only articles.


Ang Yiting, Editor of Chinese Media Group Digital, said: “There is a saying that ‘what you don't know, you don't miss’, so this means that our non-subscribers may never come across some of our best journalistic pieces behind the paywall. By introducing innovative ways to help non-subscribers unlock these premium content, we hope they will constantly discover and engage with the best stories that our journalists can offer, grow to love them and eventually become a part of our community.”


Publishers from over 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region participated in the Google challenge, and 23 projects were eventually selected, receiving over S$4.3 million (US$3.2 million) in funding.


Launched by the Google News Initiative (GNI), which seeks to work with and empower the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age, the first Asia-Pacific GNI Innovation Challenge focuses on projects that enable the generation of new reader revenues, and are evaluated based on their impact on the news ecosystem, levels of innovation, feasibility and inspiration. This Innovation Challenge is the first of two rounds in 2018 and 2019.

"Quality journalism has always mattered, including now, in our digital age. The Google News Initiative allows us to support newsrooms around the world by elevating reliable and accurate content. We are glad to work with Singapore Press Holdings to help realise their goal of using technology to innovate new business models for sustainable growth and remain committed in continuing our collaboration with the news industry to build a stronger future for journalism,” said Stephanie Davis, Country Director, Google Singapore. 


Widely recognised as an objective and credible Chinese digital news site in Singapore and among global Chinese communities, has 2.3 million monthly users and currently runs on a freemium paywall model, where some articles are free for all to read and others are reserved for subscribers only.

With this new project, hopes to drive reader revenue by increasing the visibility of quality journalism, gaining a better understanding of its users and their behaviour and building reader loyalty and engagement. On the other hand, users may look forward to new ways of discovering and consuming content, while enjoying readers’ benefits at the same time. This project is slated to roll out on by Q4 2019.



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For more information, please contact:

Ms Shen Yue

Digital Product Editor

Digital, Chinese Media Group

Singapore Press Holdings

DID: 6319 1410


Ms Elaine Chrysta Tan


Corporate Communications & CSR

Singapore Press Holdings Limited

DID: +65 6319 1613



About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia's leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.

SPH's core business is publishing of newspapers, magazines and books in both print and digital editions. It also owns other digital products, online classifieds, radio stations and outdoor media.

On the property front, SPH owns 70% in a real estate investment trust called SPH REIT which comprises Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property in Orchard Road, The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall and The Rail Mall, a stretch of shopping and dining outlets along Upper Bukit Timah Road. SPH REIT also holds 85% equity stake in Figtree Grove, a freehold sub-regional shopping centre in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. SPH owns and operates The Seletar Mall. It is developing a new commercial cum residential site at Woodleigh. It also has a stake in Chinatown Point and acquired a portfolio of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in the United Kingdom.

It is in the aged care sector and owns Orange Valley, Singapore's largest private nursing home operator.

SPH runs a regional events arm and a chain of Buzz retail outlets. It also invested in the education business.

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