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SPH launches new digital photo marketplace; signs deal with A*Star


SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) has launched Photonico, a new digital photo marketplace featuring Asian contemporary culture and heritage photography which aims to become the go-to place for high-quality stock images in Asia.

Led by SPH's newly formed digital media product division, a team of photographers, designers, SPHTech engineers and editorial staff collaborated to create

Drawing from SPH archives dating back to 1948 and a network of local contributors, the marketplace has over 12,000 images available for users to purchase and more will be added to the repository daily. These uniquely Asian photographs are organised into categories such as Singapore heritage, food, nature and animals, business and Asian countries.

These thematic collections will be made available for individual, editorial and commercial uses at a fee.

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SPH chief product officer Gaurav Sachdeva said: "Photonico reflects SPH's desire to position itself as a customer-centric company that comes up with products that serve our users' needs in the most relevant way. Our digital media product team will continue to harness our highly valued media assets and content creation capabilities to develop innovative products that enrich our users' life."

SPH chief technology officer Glen Francis added: "As Photonico grows, our customers will experience the seamless blend of graphic design, artificial intelligence and machine learning - all of which power Photonico's backend."

Photonico will be featured as part of the World Press Photo 2018 exhibition that will be held from Oct 6 to 28 at the National Museum of Singapore. Presented by The Straits Times, the exhibition will showcase 161 prize-winning photographs that captured the most powerful news images from around the world.

In a separate announcement, SPH said it has signed an agreement with A*Star's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) to build a system that can optimise news headlines to improve audience engagement and media literacy.

Leveraging on IHPC's technology for sentiment and emotion analysis, the collaboration will identify elements of news headlines that are linked to article popularity. SPH and IHPC will develop a system to analyse and predict the virality of an article based on its headline. This system will enable SPH journalists to test different headlines for their articles, before choosing the one that would best attract a reader's interest and attention.

IHPC will work with SPH's data science team from the company's media strategy and analytics department, which oversees efforts to use data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve SPH's media products.

Anthony Tan, deputy chief executive officer of SPH, said: "Article headlines are a key factor in attracting readers to delve into an article. This project will help our newsrooms better understand the emotional impact of different words and phrases used in headlines, so we can improve our engagement with readers and guide them towards important and informative news without resorting to clickbait."

Tan Sze Wee, executive director of A*Star's Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), said: "A*Star is committed to supporting SPH in its innovation journey, to remain competitive and differentiated in the face of a rapidly changing global landscape. This partnership is testament to A*Star's research capabilities in artificial intelligence that can be applied across the media and services industries."

Shares in SPH - which owns newspapers such as The Straits Times and The Business Times - closed at S$2.86 on Monday, down S$0.01.

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