General interest news wasn’t resonating with millennials says Mashable COO who confirms APAC rethink not needed

Mashable COO and CFO Mike Kriak at a fireside talk in Singapore last night

Mashable COO and CFO Mike Kriak at a fireside talk in Singapore last night

Mashable’s decision to return to its editorial heartland of digital culture and focus more on video journalism will not mean a rethink of its Asia Pacific operations is needed, one of internet publisher’s top executives has said.

Mashable has an Asia hub in Singapore and an Australian operation in Sydney which have been staffed with text-based journalists with traditional news backgrounds, but Mike Kriak, the company’s COO and CFO, said last night that the staff cuts that came soon after a $15m video deal with Turner Broadcasting would not be felt in this region.

Among the editorial staff to be let go was US-based chief content officer Jim Roberts, a former senior New York Times and Thomson Reuters editor who oversaw the hiring of Mashable’s editorial team in APAC.

After a fireside interview in Singapore, Kriak said that the restructure was made because general interest news being well received by Mashable’s core audience and the publisher was losing its brand equity in the market.

“We decided not to cover general interest news or broad global events, because it wasn’t resonating with our audience in a significant way,” he said.

“Of course, we’re running a business. So whenever we look at the millennial audience and younger we want to be able to tell stories about innovation. We will continue to tell stories about the internet’s response to something in terms of a broader general interest story. But I think the reality is that you’ve got a host of media players internationally covering something like the Paris attacks or the Brussels attacks.”

“So is Mashable really going to be able to differentiate itself with the direct factually based approach?” he said. “Rather what we want to be able to say is, ‘how is the internet responding to that and what’s the story underneath the story?'”

On whether new skills would be needed to replace those already in place in APAC, he said: “No, I don’t think so. It’s not an either or,” adding that video capability would be built in on top of existing skills sets. In Asia, Mashable has hired two editorial staff, former Cleo Singapore deputy editor Alicia Tan and TechCrunch and SPH writer Victoria Ho.

Kriak said that while some stories get bigger audiences in local markets, “all stories should be local” in the sense that they resonate with Mashable’s core audience of tech-loving millennials everywhere.

“From an international perspective, the stories that have been regionalised by Velocity [a tool Mashable uses to predict the virality of its stories] sure will have a greater tendency to resonate with a Singaporean or Southeast Asian audience, but it doesn’t matter where the story is told. All stories should be local in a way,” he said, adding that the remit of the editorial team was to tell local stories through the lens of digital culture.

Last week Mashable revealed it is partnering with Bravo, Telemundo and Facebook Live as part of its efforts to build digital video operations. The news came a month after a $15m deal between Mashable and Turner to co-develop and distribute video content. Interviewing Kriak on stage last night was Wendy Hogan, the former chair of IAB Singapore and APAC head of CBS Interactive, who pointed out that video content tends to be more valuable in advertising terms than text-based content, generating higher CPMs.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing