Eleven years ago, a twentysomething executive looked into the future—and he saw that it was digital.
“Digital fulfills our information, aesthetic and interactive needs. It used to be that TV and radio, for example, addressed a particular need. Now it’s all digital,” says Donald Lim, chief digital officer of ABS-CBN and head of its Digital Media Division (DMD).
The Ateneo alumnus, considered a pillar of digital marketing in the country, was in fact the wunderkind of newspaper publishing. But in the last few years, Lim immersed himself in the new frontier of digital development, even picking up a Ten Outstanding Young Men trophy in 2015 for his “leadership in digitizing the Philippine business industry.
But that’s getting ahead of the story.
When he joined ABS-CBN in 2013, Lim started by streamlining existing teams to form the unified DMD. As one of those in the forefront of ABS-CBN’s transformation into a digital media company, the group carries out a hybrid of the human resources and information technology functions in order to provide the digital requirements of ABS-CBN’s lines of business, be it Broadcast, News, SKYcable or publishing.
Among other responsibilities, the DMD is the go-to team in times of crises, guiding Kapamilya talents as they navigate the digital landscape and stamping out social media fires.
The DMD also worked on pushing ABS-CBN websites to the top of the charts.
“You have to protect the core first,” Lim explains. “You have to make sure that when you go out and tell people you’re good at digital, everything is in order in your house.”
Today, the ABS-CBN website is the No. 1 local website; it ranks sixth overall in the country, following Google Philippines, YouTube, Facebook, Google and Yahoo but ahead of Inquirer.net and GMAnetwork. com. The ABS-CBN YouTube channel and social media accounts are likewise lording it over the competition. The former, in fact, has made as much as P100 million for the company through monetization.
The first broadcast
It was an October evening 63 years ago when Filipinos— at least the few hundreds who owned TV sets at the time—watched the country’s first TV broadcast, courtesy of ABS-CBN precursor Alto Broadcasting System.
The event was hardly an extravaganza— it consisted mostly of guests at a party in San Juan walking around and checking themselves out on the monitor as a live band played. But no matter. That nonspectacular introduction to television allowed Filipinos to catch the tail-end of the medium’s “golden age” in the US.
By the late 1960s, Eugenio Lopez Jr.—Kapitan to his Kapamilya— had towed ABS-CBN to a series of firsts: the first color TV broadcast, the first marathon election coverage, the first telecast of an event via satellite, “Man on the Moon.”
By the time the world ushered in the 2000s, ABSCBN— this time led by Kapitan’s son Eugenio Lopez III—had diversified into talent management, movie production and cable TV, among others.
Less than 15 years into the new millennium, ABS-CBN once again became the Philippines’ trailblazer as it began its transformation into an agile digital company.
The DMD under Lim has taken on the challenge to push the transition along. Gone are the days when “going digital” meant putting up a Facebook page or a microsite. These days, Lim says, it constitutes a full-blown campaign in the mold of their Otwolista.com and the Push Awards.
The handful of projects the DMD has already come up with thus far are all gamechangers in their own ways.
Stellar, rolled out on the division’s anniversary last year, matches Star Magic artists with the “best fit” products and services for social media campaigns. All 250 Star Magic artists are signed with Stellar.
For the fledgling “social media celebrity marketing agency,” Lim developed a system called Navi Score. Navi Score factors in engagement and action taken by followers in relation to the as well as his/her reach or number of followers; this means the artist’s Navi Score could change from week to week.
“As a leader in the digital space, we would like to set up the industry standard on how brands and influencers mutually benefit as they work together in engaging their audiences. We offer a standard measurement and pricing model so we give credit where credit is due, and ensure all stakeholders in the social media ecosystem are taken care of in this entire process,” Lim had stated during the launch.
Readers of Metro will revel in the new multimedia reading app NoInk, as they can use it to purchase digital copies of their favorite ABS-CBN Publishing titles and other local publications. A helpful feature is a curated list of stories and videos that gives users an instant snapshot of what’s hot and happening all over the country.
New users of MyPhone smartphones will be among those that will have a first experience of the new app as it comes preloaded in the company’s devices beginning this month.
But the multi-channel network Chicken Pork Adobo (CPA) is closest to Lim’s heart, being one of DMD’s first babies.
“I’m always proudest of how our assets moved to the top of its class—our website, YouTube channel, social media—but Chicken Pork Adobo is my favorite. We empower our YouTube creators to just create content for us.”
From 90 creators at launch 15 months ago, CPA is now home to over 300 Filipino online celebrities. The mix includes actors, singers, photographers, makeup artists, filmmakers, foodies, students— and just about any Pinoy here and abroad who wants to say something and anything.
In a world split between digital natives and digital immigrants, the DMD’s role goes beyond being the “biggest translator” in ABS-CBN’s digital shift. At the company’s stockholders’ meeting last May, ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo L. Katigbak said the company is transitioning into an “agile digital company.”
“As we race to build the new digital ecosystem, our role is not just digital marketing—it’s the digital transformation of the company,” Lim concludes.