Korean newspaper boss: Publishers should look at untapped potential of chat apps

Park speaking last week at INMA World Congress

Park speaking last week at INMA World Congress

The boss of one of South Korea’s biggest newspapers has urged publishers to look at the potential of chat apps like Snapchat, Viber and Line.

Chang-hee Park, chief operating officer of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper argued at the International News Media Congress in New York, it is not just young audiences that can be reached on the services.

Park said it had built more than 350,000 followers on various apps including local service Kakao giving a welcome boost to its online audiences. 

“I’m thrilled to share with you the thrill of discovering new audiences in the chat app space,” said Park. “We have finally found the right convergence formula – it has been working for us.”

“We have found new audiences on chat apps. The first one we joined is Kakao a Korean chat app, which we joined in September 2013 and which we now have 126,000 followers on.

“In February, last year we joined Line and today we have 170,000 followers and most excitingly we joined Viber six months ago and we have 56,000 followers. I think this might be where the money is.

“As of today we have 350,000 new readers and growing at the rate of about 1,000 every week and a half.”

JoongAng Ilbo is far from the only publisher to be exploring chat app’s potential for reaching online audiences with the Daily Mail expanding its partnership with Snapchat recently, which it described as an ‘absolute monster’. 

Park noted that it was not only teenagers on these apps.

“When you look at the stats you see that it is different demographics reading us and different stories being read and a different engagement,” he said.

The Kakakao audience is very young – mostly in school – primarily music orientated especially K-Pop.

“The Line audience is also young but already in the labour force, interested in music but open to news as well.

“Viber audience – a high end demographic, generally older and very keen on news. We have been able to flood public channels with a lot of news and other content.”

Asked by the audience about the engagement levels

“We are getting really good engagement but we haven’t yet got the seven per cent engagement of Twitter yet but, it is growing.”

Nic Christensen 


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