Zaobao.sg
Zaobao.sg screen grab Zaobao.sg

The digital news provider of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Zaobao.sg has been named the winner of the first Asia-Pacific Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge. The winner from Singapore has also bagged $200,000 in funding for its proposal to increase reader engagement via gamification.

The news platform currently has 2.3 million monthly users. In this website, while some news new articles are free for all to read, there are some stories, which need to be subscribed before reading.

Zaobao.sg aims to attract more people to sign up as well as read news through the new gamified membership system.

As per this new system, the non-subscribers will get a chance to gain access to the premium content by performing gamified and non-monetary based actions to accumulate points for the premium content access or gifts.

The Straits Times reported that Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes Lianhe Zaobao said, "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."

Zaobao.sg clarified their objectives and said that the digital news platform hopes to drive reader revenue by providing quality journalism, as well as gaining a better understanding for the readers, building their loyalty towards the website and the engagement.

The editor of SPH's Chinese Media Group Digital, Ang Yiting added that there are many readers who don't get the opportunity to read good articles on the website because of the paywall. But the gamified membership system will help the non-subscribers to unlock the premium content and "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."

However, Google received 215 applications from 18 countries within two months of introducing Innovation Challenge. The tech giant selected 23 projects and funded these with S$4.3 million.

Google global CEO Sundar Pichai
Google global CEO Sundar Pichai. IANS

Google said that "We build programs to meet the needs of journalists and news organizations so they can succeed on the web."

The programs include:

  • Innovation: Working with journalists, news organizations and entrepreneurs to introduce several innovative ideas to the media industry.
  • Training: Providing training on Google's tools for journalism.
  • Insights: Conducting research on critical topics, such as VR Journalism, Data Journalism

Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai believes that through spearing knowledge everyone's life will be better. "It's at the heart of Google's mission. It's the mission of publishers and journalists. Put simply, our futures are tied together," he added.

Google says, the News Initiative is created on the basis of five major facts, which are:

  • Quality journalism matters
  • Financial stability requires innovation
  • The digital news ecosystem should remain open
  • New technology presents a new opportunity
  • Collaboration is key to our mutual success