Posts filed under ‘content’

Found in Translation

James M (MindShare, Thailand) writes: 

asiaonline.jpgToday I attended a presentation arranged by AmCham with Asia Online as Guest Speaker. Once over the initial shock of the title (Is Machine Translation Ready for Real-world Use?), I found the subject matter fascinating and wondered why it had not struck me sooner? With approximately one billion online, many of whom are comfortable with the English language, what of the next billion? The ‘next generation’ will want (and many will only be able) to interact with the web in their own language.

Dion Wiggins, CEO of Asia Online, explained how currently only 12% of all web pages are in Asian languages (mostly split between Chinese and Japanese – with Thai making up less than 0.03%). Although much was made about making technology available to the developing world, he went on (especially the Nicholas Negroponte-fronted project One Laptop per Child) little progress had been made in making the vast majority of the existing, valuable content available in anything but the English language.

In response, his company is “innovating software translation technology to deliver far more accurate results and to support many language combinations…to translate huge quantities of valuable content and make that freely available in local languages.” They are well aware of the idioms and nuances each language possesses and as such the software requires vast amounts of data (corpus) in original and translated versions from which it can learn. Assuming they are successful, the value of existing content and the ability to create new pages instantly available in multiple languages will be of huge potential to the current and ‘next billion’ Internet users.

Watch this space…

March 18, 2008 at 10:18 am 4 comments

A digitizing Bollywood? India’s first serial for mobiles

pp002bollywood-kaho-naa-pyaar-hai-posters.jpgJu (MindShare, Regional team) writes:

Hope you had a great refreshing holiday like I did and wishing everyone a superb year ahead!

I opened my inbox to find an interesting article on the distribution of content through mobile phones in India, forwarded to me by Alefiyah in MindShare Singapore who gave us the “Bollywood on Mobile” story last year. The article on the Hindustani Times, titled “India’s first serial for mobiles next month” featured another example of how Bollywood is capitalizing on digital technology to bring entertainment to the masses. Rajshri Productions, a major Bollywood production house, has created a “90-episode series, with three minutes per episode, … in the humour genre” offered to the audience via the mobile phone.

With the high penetration rate of mobile phones in the region, other developing countries in Asia-Pacific might want to keep an eye on India to see how the landscape for digital content and platforms will unfold. In the developing world, it is likely that India will lead in terms of creative ideas on producing content for new media like the Internet, mobile phones and mp3 players, given the population’s uniquely insatiable appetite for Bollywood fare.

The article reminds me a recent chat I had with a Thai security guard servicing one of my friend’s apartment in Bangkok. The guard (apparently an early adopter of trends, as my friend tells me) was trying out DTAC’s (a Thai mobile network operator) new GPRS promotion plan that offered a FREE mobile-internet-friendly Nokia phone bundled with 20 hours of downloads for 99 baht (about 3 USD). He was happily connected to the Internet with his phone through the mobile internet browser Opera, but he had one problem. He had no idea where to go to find any kind of entertainment on the Internet! I have a feeling he’d go for a Thai version of the mobile comedy series launching in India…

Read India’s first serial for mobiles next month on Hindustani Times. Thanks Alefiyah!

January 2, 2008 at 11:22 am 13 comments

Connecting with Malaysian teens through TV

David (MindShare, Thailand) writes:


From our close relative The Juice comes this item about the continuation of “Impian Illyana” a great piece of integrated TV branded content & activation for SunSilk. Proof that sensitively-produced content can appeal to audiences and work at the checkout.

May 22, 2007 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

YouTube disappears from Thai Internet

David (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

From today’s Bangkok Post:

Internet users reported on Wednesday that Thai authorities had blocked the popular website YouTube, over an insulting video of His Majesty the King.


Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, the minister of information and communication technology, told the Reuters news agency he personally ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after the ministry’s attempts to block the offending page last week failed.

Full story at:

April 5, 2007 at 6:11 am 2 comments

Malaysia’s Justin Timberlake Brings Muslim Values Back

Yasmin and Liyana (MindShare, Malaysia) writes:

At first glance, Malaysia’s latest singing phenomenon looks like a Southeast Asian version of Justin Timberlake, with his slim build and closely-cropped hair. But this is where the similarities end. While JT sings about bringing “Sexy Back”, Mawi, as this unlikely pop idol is known, uses his latest album to bring the Quran back onto the airwaves for Malaysia’s youth. This 25 year old from a poor agricultural village sells more albums of religious tunes and Islamic verses than Justin Timberlake and other global acts. Mawi won the local equivalent of ‘Pop Idol’ by a landslide, motivated millions to purchase the products he endorsed, and has even unintentionally spawned the phenomenon of “Mawi headscarves” among Malay women.

Here’s a video compilation of his performances, with fans looking on in adoration:

So what propelled this average Joe to unprecedented heights of popularity? Timing has a lot to do with it. Alienated by the US-led war on terror, public opinion in the Islamic world, including here in moderate Malaysia, has gradually shifted away from a US-centric world view towards other alternatives. Along comes Mawi, who tries to pursue a career in the competitive entertainment world without compromising on traditional Islamic values. Among a sea of local Hollywood wannabes, Mawi stood out as the first to project a contemporary image yet stay true to Muslim values, winning over legions of Malay fans in the process.

The growing preference for local idols is reflected in the consumers’ brand choices too. According to MindShare’s 3D Research, Malays are more likely than before to opt for local brands. A local coffee brand infused with traditional herbs is giving established international beverages a run for their money, and a similar scenario can be seen in other product categories. For the new generation of middle income Malays, who make up the majority of the Malaysian population, foreign does not necessarily equal aspirational. The growing recognition for homegrown heroes means global brands need to seek ways to speak to consumers in their own lingo and on their own terms.

April 1, 2007 at 3:17 pm 7 comments

Singapore’s Retro-wave and implications for media


Sonal (MConsult, Singapore) writes:

The Straits Times, Singapore’s leading English daily, recently devoted its entire Sunday Lifestyle supplement to covering a phenomenon which seems to be becoming a rage in Singapore. ‘Nostalgia’ or the need to relive the past is a disease that seems to be afflicting more Singaporeans than is usual. In fact so big is the phenomenon, that one can almost call it a mini industry of sorts in this city state.

It has many avataars – retro/vintage/60’s or 70’s hip/40’s-50’s art deco/classic- and it finds many manifestations- retro theme parties, quaint looking eateries, retro designs for buildings and offices, activist groups campaigning for the preservation of historic buildings and their facades, retro furniture shops, nostalgia themed collections/looks by designers to even the National Museum putting up era specific memorabilia on display and publishing a book on Vintage Singapore. The most popular destination in Singapore currently, The Cathay Picture House (Most popular destination for online Singaporeans – MPulse November 2006), has also been through a recent makeover which highlights its art deco façade instead of a swanky modern contemporary look. The New Majestic Hotel, recently renovated similarly, is one of the hippest destinations in Singapore. In fact, even our Mindshare Singapore office has a conference room done up in mosaic sixties style!!

So what lies behind Singapore’s yearning for the past? Is it merely nostalgia, which can be found everywhere? Or is it something more, something to sit up, understand and possibly learn from?

For Singapore, a city often accused by the world of having no soul, this could perhaps be an attempt to discover what it is really about. The current generation is perhaps increasingly trying to bring back and understand the past to decode the character of the present.

According to a sociologist quoted in the aforementioned Sunday Times supplement, ‘People tend to have a kind of selective amnesia about the past. Not only they remember it, but they also embellish it and make it better than it really was’(Chua Beng Huat, sociologist, Sunday Times, Page L3, 18th February).

Therein, perhaps, also lies the key to the phenomenon’s marketability and it’s appeal to businesses. It is no surprise then, that an informal estimate by the same publication pegs the investment in recreating the past at SGD 20 million. Little surprise, also then, that brands with histories like Coke and Levi’s do not hesitate to jump on to the bandwagon by cashing in on the iconic equity of their older products/packaging.

It is therefore, definitely more than merely a rose tinted view of the past. What lies at the bottom of this is a need to find meaning, personality, character in things.

So what is it that we, as media and marketing experts can learn from the nostalgia story?

An interesting exploration to be made here is perhaps the extensive debate about the irrelevance of old media like newspapers and TV, which seem to be fading in importance especially amongst the youth as remnants of a time which is past. But these same youth are also the ones buying into ‘retro’ fashion, which they may not even have been around to see. Something, which on the surface seems to be a passing fad, actually has more depth. Take for example, the popularity of LPs in the world MP3 players and other extensive digital format options. There are young people who still buy into LPs because of many reasons, the superiority of content quality being an important reason. The feeling that you own the piece of music and have a personal relationship with being another, and the feeling of having something tangible in your hands.

This analogy is important to illustrate how and why old media like newspapers may never go out of business. In a world where information flow online is completely uninhibited and undoctored, information almost controls the individual…take the example of any website which you would visit. The possibility that the website takes you somewhere completely, through links that take you to other links, which take you even farther, from where you started is very high. There are people who feel lost on the net there is an overwhelming sense of loss of control. They also doubt the source credibility of it. Such people prefer printed words on pages. For them the printed word on a newspaper has much more veracity than a random website on the net.

The argument of tangibility also holds. The need to own a book which you love is huge for readers. Opening the book, whether new or old, and smelling its pages, is in itself an act establishing a relationship with it, as is reading it again and again.

For some the print medium has meaning beyond mere information. These people store collections of magazines like Vogue and National Geographic. There are people, in fact, who frame poems and put them up on the wall.

According to Colin Faulks, designer in residence, at La Salle Arts College, the print medium appeals to subconscious parts of us. Elements like the smell of ink, the need to hold what you read and feel some sense of ownership over it, the almost ‘organic, hands on feel’ that reading words on paper gives us, and the ability to touch it are all the qualities that may ensure the survival of this medium in this electronic age. He feels the reason why after moving from the scroll format to the present book/magazine/newspaper format, we have not evolved any new forms of print is the appropriateness of it, which has not faded.

Media owners will probably have to gear up for a future in which reading newspapers becomes a statement of sorts, and the medium itself evolves to a specialized niche one which stands for information of a particular kind. Its audience will then also be a niche one, allowing more focused targeting and high value revenue rather volume revenue.

What meaning will it hold for the reader and what kind of reader will it appeal to? One can only surmise but a reasonable guess is that similar to people who are passionate about music and prefer hard formats to soft ones, this will appeal to those who value the written word, those who take pleasure in reading, to discerning readers who value things like good writing, skillful use of language and informed opinions.

The newspaper has always carried, with its black and white print, no nonsense layout, the use of older serif fonts, carried with it gravitas and authority. News in the newspaper (the main newspaper) stands for a detached, impersonal, and rational point of view.

It stands for a sense of order and control, an explanation and guide to the chaos around us, and what asserts this is the intellectual rigor that goes into the writing of it. This sense of order in chaos may become even more valuable in the miasmic chaos of information that is the internet- undoctored, unmonitored, unverified and uncharted. Many young people look to the newspaper as the most credible source of information, even though they may not refer to it on a daily basis.

It is likely then that this deeper coded unchanging meaning within newspapers will still remain and fulfill a need for this ‘kind’ of content…and spell a clearly demarcated future where each medium fulfills a different kind of need altogether.

March 7, 2007 at 3:26 am 1 comment

MTV Korea teams up with multimedia portals

Ju (MindShare, Regional team) writes:


We see media fragmenting everday, in the multitude of delivery platforms (mobile phones, MP3s and other personal media players, video sites) and the increasingly diverse content, such as the “Narrowing Divide in the English news space” in India.

What happens next? With so much choice for content and so many ways to consume it, it is logical to assume that wired consumers will subconsciously desire a simpler way to manage the bits and pieces of content floating around them. This is where the bigger, more familiar brands like MTV can step in, and has just done so with their new offering in Korea, MTView.


From MTV Networks Korea’s press release, February 12th:

MTV Networks Korea has teamed up with four leading web sites and portals in Korea: Bugs, Empas, and Pandora TV, to launch an unparalleled multimedia network platform called MTView, creating an ultimate destination for Korean consumers to access and view a wide-range of MTV-branded and other original content online.

MTView, an extended offering of MTV BOOMBOX’ customizable on-demand music and entertainment broadband and mobile community platform, is the latest free of charge multimedia video sharing network service offered by an unprecedented alliance of diverse web services and content providers in Korea. With an estimated of 15 million online viewing streams and a potential reach of 23 million registered members, MTView is expected to be the largest video content portal in Korea giving access to 69.4 % of Korea’s internet users to MTVN entertainment and other compelling content offered by our partners.

With over 100 music videos being uploaded to the platform daily, consumers are given on-demand access to a vast library of content including music videos, MTV-branded award shows such as MTV Video Music Awards and MTV Europe Music Awards as well as hit shows such as Pimp My Ride, Sunny Side, Punk’d and The Hills. Alongside with pre-released music videos and exclusive MTV-branded international shows never shown on MTV Korea, MTView will also feature wide-ranging user-created content from Pandora TV, more music videos and music-related videos from Bugs, the latest in news and entertainment/lifestyle information from and a web search service provided by Empas.

In the next phase, MTView will upgrade its service with additional functions, allowing internet users to customize and share videos across multiple platforms with each other through a social network video sharing service encompassing videoblogs, instant messaging and user-created content online viewing.

Commenting on the partnership, Luke Kang, Managing Director of MTV Networks Korea, said, “The launch of MTView marks a ground breaking partnership in a series of cross platform initiatives spearheaded by five leading media companies in the market. This digital offering not only enables us and our partners to intensify our connections with Korean consumers, it will also give us a strong competitive advantage to stay ahead of technology and user trends in the market.”

“The demand for quality video content is growing every day” Jihee Nam, Vice President, Digital Media, MTV Networks Korea said, “MTView is here to provide a first class service through a unique partnerships between MTV, the world’s leading broadcaster, and four partners specialized in music, search service, news and user-generated content websites, to further enhance the rapid changing entertainment needs and content interests of Korea’s internet users.”

MTV BOOMBOX is a comprehensive online entertainment destination utilizing state of the art technology across online and mobile platforms, providing Korean consumers a robust digital community featuring local and international MTV programming on-demand, a wealth of user-generated content and a vast library of local and international music video and audio downloads. MTV BOOMBOX launched in May 2006, marking the first MTV-branded broadband network in Asia and the first video-based music community site to launch in Korea.

Celebrating the launch of MTView, Korea’s latest girl band Wonder Girls from MTV Korea’s reality show “MTV Wonder Girls”, will be giving their first live performance at the MTV studio in Seoul on 13 February 2007. Viewers can check out the … websites and stand a chance to catch the girls playing live.”

The book MTV Collections of Cool Asia has identified the emergence of “Asian Art Collectives”, where individuals and small businesses come under one collective banner, creating more visibility and attention, such as The Asylum in Singapore, and The Click Project in Malaysia. With MTView as example, it seems the concept of “collectives” can also be applied at a macro-level, with media owners or brands teaming up with high-traffic partners.

The way I see it, it’s like identifying the universe that your target consumer lives in and creating your own branded galaxy within that.

February 13, 2007 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

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