Kam [email protected] Photos by: Cheong Kam Ka Mome Media and Marketing is the first company in Macau to broadcast audio‑visual programmes on the bus. Their business, however, is more than that, the founders of the company, Joseph Chan and Joe Liu, told Business Daily, with one of Mome’s ultimate goals being to promote Macau positively to both residents and visitors via its mobile programmes What does Mome do? Joe Liu: Our business has two main segments. The first segment is the media part, with which we want to reach a high coverage of Macau, while at the same time cultivating a platform that really owns viewership here in Macau, so that people want to follow and watch our programmes. Our media segment is different from the traditional media outlets. We produce audio-visual programmes. We operate as a mobile media outlet, which can be seen as the first step of our business. Meanwhile, we offer marketing services, which is the second scope of our business. Amid the economic environment of Macau, our marketing services target local SMEs and even multinational firms as their demands for marketing are high. We want to make use of the local environment to provide one-stop services to reach full coverage of Macau. You just mentioned that you want to build viewership by offering mobile audio-visual programmes. How did you come up with the idea of playing your productions on the bus? Joe Liu: In fact, our company is aiming to build a real gateway for Macau. As such, our service scope does not only include the audio-visual programmes on the bus…although many people got to know us via the bus programmes. The bus programme is only the first step of our business. But why do we want to start with the bus first? It’s because there aren’t many choices for public transportation in Macau, which is different from Hong Kong, where you have railways, tram buses and taxis. In Macau, there’re only buses and taxis. In addition, the number of taxis is not high, only some 1,200. However, the daily carrying capacity of local buses reaches 530,000 passengers, which definitely covers most of the population. Hence, we think that broadcasting audio-visual programmes on buses is a very good starting point. When did this idea materialise? Joe Liu: Joseph and I planned this idea for 18 months. The preparation before starting the operation took 18 months. What did you do during this 18-month preparation? Joseph Chan: Our preparation can be divided into three parts. The first part was seeking the co-operation of the bus operators. We’re very lucky that we reached an agreement with Transmac at the beginning. Following that, we had to figure out the installation of TV screens, and the techniques we should use for broadcasting the programmes. We thought about whether we should play the programmes by plugging in USB drivers. But we think that technology keeps developing and that we should not use such rather old products from 10 years ago. Hence, we tried to look for new methods with high stability, such as the 3G network. And then it came to an even more difficult part, which was production. We don’t want to just install a TV screen on the bus and just play ads or broadcast the same programmes. We believe Macau needs more media choices. In the environment we have – high capacity and mobility whereby passengers may spend between 20 and 30 minutes every day on the bus – we do not want to waste this. In our opinion, if you keep playing only ads or low-quality programmes, we won’t be able to build viewership. Hence, at the beginning, we tried to look for a very good crew, and to understand what programme content Macau people are interested in watching. We also decided to change our programming every few days. All this took us several months. Why was it difficult to look for suppliers to provide the necessary technology? Joseph Chan: After all, broadcasting programmes on buses is not a common industry. Many suppliers are not experienced in this and they might have only done one or two related projects before. For us, what we need most is stability and sustainability [of systems]. The most difficult part is to find a supplier that can meet our needs. Is the supplier local? Joseph Chan: Actually, we have few different suppliers for different parts. Some are local, while some are from Mainland China or foreign countries. How do you select programme content? Joseph Chan: We produce what we think the public is interested in. At the beginning, the opinions we collected showed that people like more entertaining programmes so we primarily made this kind of programme. In the future, the genre of our programmes will be more varied. We meet with our team every few months. We also collect feedback from the audience. We decide upon the content of our new programmes based on this. What is the frequency of changing the programmes? Joseph Chan: We change every three to five days. Joe Liu: In fact, I’d like to add the reason why the preparation took more than one year before operation… In these 18 months of preparation, aside from working on broadcasting videos on the bus, we conducted many marketing surveys and many other preparatory works to understand the local industry… and how local enterprises decide upon their marketing strategies. Only after all this information searching did we come up with a plan of how to make audio-visual media more useful in Macau, and how to utilise it and integrate it with other media outlets. We want to play the role of mediator, pulling all the different outlets together, helping the needs of different corporations. These will be our upcoming challenges. Was it difficult to find people in the production field to help the company fulfil the ‘step-one’ business? Joseph Chan: There were difficulties. We prefer co-operating with local production houses or individuals. Up to today, we’ve already co-operated with a few of them. However, video production in Macau isn’t a very popular industry or profession after all, many local high-quality producers or directors aren’t able to be highly productive and efficient in this commercial environment when they don’t have a team to support them. As such, our co-operation with them also intends to make them improve and be more competitive. Joe Liu: Yes. Hence, we don’t discount the possibility that we will continue looking for and cultivating local people in the field to join us. This is our goal of ‘step-one’. In the beginning, we required high efficiency and good quality for our productions as only by that could we attract audiences. As such, during our ‘step-one’, we co-operated with many Hong Kong professionals. Many core members of our production crew had worked for TVB [a Hong Kong television operator] before. They are leading and teaching our crew, which includes some green, new people in the industry. This is also our direction for pushing the local industry to grow. What is the ultimate goal that you really want to reach or bring to Macau residents by bus broadcasting? Joseph Chan: We have varied goals. In terms of video production, we want our programmes to appeal to audiences. For the long term, we want to expand as a visual platform and provide more different programmes. We’d like to produce more that’s related to the audience. For example, some of our productions are entertaining while some others are about information. We want to extend our informative programmes, as we want passengers to learn from our programmes during their 30-minute bus trips every day. Meanwhile, we help local associations, social enterprises and schools, if they have some good messages to spread to residents. Joe Liu: In fact, we have two categories of targeted audience. So far, we really want our business to permeate through to Macau residents. Hence, you can see that the contents of the first batch of programmes we have produced are about the daily life of local residents, which is the first step. Our next step is… Our programmes are now playing in taxis, too. The carrying capacity of taxis covers about 70 per cent of the city’s visitors. Hence, we also want to produce programmes that are suitable for tourists too, so that they can experience Macau via a local perspective, and can know that Macau has many other good things besides tourism spots and the hotels. As such, I believe that the scope of our audiences will get wider. On the other hand, we’re uploading our programmes online so that people from different places can also watch and experience Macau. When did the broadcasting in taxi start? Joe Liu: It started in the middle of March. In fact, we’re installing our screens [in taxis] every day. How many taxis have been installed with the screens and systems already? Joseph Chan: 500. Do you think Mome is successful, in terms of fulfilling your targets? Joe Liu: We’re learning. We keep setting new targets, directions and doing new things. We don’t say if we’re successful or not, but we really reckon Macau has great potential. We’re progressing and developing. What are the future plans of Mome? Joseph Chan: the first step of our future plans is to continue extending our media outlets. Apart from public transportation, we’ll start broadcasting our programmes in busy areas of Macau. Meanwhile, we want to improve our video production in terms of efficiency and quality. In addition, we’re developing the online digital field for marketing or media exposure. First of all, we’ll provide customer services to help companies in Macau to promote their business to China, Southeast Asia or globally through some innovative online methods. Meanwhile, for our offline media field, we’d like to build a bridge connecting this field to the online one to increase interaction [with audiences]. Joe Liu: Although people can watch our programmes in different areas of Macau now, it’s not just about that. Many people always use their mobile phones. Many visitors in Macau may want to get more different information from the Internet or even do online shopping. We’re striving to build this bridge for them, leading them to different places in Macau after watching our programmes or using our applications, so that our offline and online platforms can be integrated. What are your prospects in the new media industry? Joseph Chan: I think Macau is a rather unique environment. We want to connect as many people as possible. For the prospects of the industry, many opportunities are on the Internet. In the perspective of traditional media, or of ours, we’re competing with online media outlets. However, I perceive that the mobile media that we’re doing has a few more advantages than traditional TV media because our cost is lower. In addition, the competition of broadcasting programmes on the bus is not as fierce as it is among TV channels. Hence, I think our kind of media, as long as we keep our programmes good and connect with our audience, we’ll have a sustainable development. Joe Liu: Another thing is, Macau is a very small place after all, which is different from other big cities nearby which have many media outlets. In other places, you can see the competition among media is very furious. On the contrary, in Macau, I think different types of media outlet can communicate more. We hope to link all the people in Macau and all the outlets in the industry for co-operation, to strengthen the competitiveness of the local industry. In your opinion, what is the chief factor making the industry sustainable? Support from the government . . . or what? Joseph Chan: The industry’s own efforts are the most important. Of course it’s good if there’s government support. But I believe that a good business or enterprise can survive even without the support of the government.