Photo: Military-constructed roundabout in Mawlamyine, Myanmar, reminding citizens to get to work

Myanmar has continued to open up for business following its democratic transition starting in 2012, but the country’s independent media now face growing economic challenges.

The country is evolving into a mobile-first media market, dominated by Facebook’s Free Basics. While its carrier partnerships bring affordable mobile internet to most of the country, Free Basics renders as paid content the digital media environment outside Facebook’s brands, which greatly reduces audience appetite for it. Mobile users count their kilobytes and avoid slow, heavy news websites when they can get content quickly and without cost via Facebook. Publishers face growing demand from their audiences to put all of their content inside the Facebook environment, which is a risky audience strategy and currently hard to monetise.

Compounding this is the apparent strengthening of relationships between state, research groups and media buying agencies which keeps much of the estimated USD 200m annual ad market away from independent media. Nation-wide campaigns are directed to a few large media groups, with the smaller media needing to find creative ways to edge in via intermediaries.

So how is Newsgain helping?

Our first task has been to evaluate current performance, comparing our partners to benchmarks we’ve established from analysis of our news publisher partners globally. This is the foundation for audience growth and improved user engagement. We then mentor our partners in being data-driven, gaining new audiences, making technical and editorial adjustments, forging commercial partnerships and creating diversified revenue sources.

In our recent 9-day trip to Myanmar, we assessed numerous avenues for growth, including those in print and broadcast. We focused heavily on digital development as this is where independent media there are furthest behind the market. Our one-on-one consultations brought together stakeholders and staff, achieving on-the-spot technical improvements and behavioural change, setting a path for growth that might otherwise take many months to achieve. We captured baseline organisational and digital performance data and set a course for traffic growth, improved user engagement, technical improvements, ad sales strategies and new innovations. The aims are simple: expand audiences and monetise.

Based mostly in Yangon, we also travelled across Kayah and Shan States between meetings, offering us valuable insights into regional business in those areas. As outsiders, it can be hard to imagine how far away from a thriving media environment some areas of Myanmar are, despite the country’s rapid rate of development. On a four-hour drive, we saw very few branded businesses that could take the step of advertising to fuel growth.

Our involvement is part of the Internews implementation of business management and digital media development components of the USAID-funded Civil Society and Media Project, for which FHI360 is the lead organisation.

In addition to its commercial operations, Newsgain works with organisations that strengthen independent media in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Privacy Preference Center


The __cfduid cookie is used by Cloudflare to identify individual clients behind a shared IP address and apply security settings on a per-client basis. For example, if the visitor is in a coffee shop where there are infected machines, but the specific visitor's machine is trusted (e.g. because they've completed a challenge within the Cloudflare Challenge Passage period), the cookie allows Cloudflare to identify that client and not challenge them again. It does not correspond to any user ID in the website, and does not store any personally identifiable information. It has a default expiration of 1 year.


Tracking - Google

_gat is a Google Analytics cookie, used to throttle (i.e. limit) the request rate to Google Analytics. It has a default expiration of 1 minute.

_ga is a Google Analytics cookie used to distinguish users and has a default expiration of 2 years.

_gid is a Google Analytics cookie is used to distinguish users and has a default expiration of 24 hours.

NID is used as a preferences cookie for most Google users. A browser sends this cookie with requests to Google’s sites. The NID cookie contains a unique ID Google uses to remember your preferences and other information, such as your preferred language (e.g. English), how many search results you wish to have shown per page (e.g. 10 or 20), and whether or not you wish to have Google’s SafeSearch filter turned on. Google also uses NID help customise ads on Google properties, like Google Search. For example, it uses such cookies to remember your most recent searches, your previous interactions with an advertiser’s ads or search results, and your visits to an advertiser’s website. This helps Google to show you customised ads, and it has a default expiration of 6 months.



wordpress_test_cookie is set when you navigate to the website's login page. The cookie is used to check whether your web browser is set to allow, or reject cookies. It expires at the end of your session.

wp-settings-[UID] is set for each individual logged-in user ID from the users database table. This is used to customize your view of admin interface and also the main website's interface, if the website is altered for authenticated users. The default expiration of this cookie is 1 year.

wp-settings-time-[UID] is set for each individual logged-in user ID from the users database table. This is used to customize your view of admin interface and also the main website's interface, if the website is altered for authenticated users. The default expiration of this cookie is 1 year.

wordpress_sec_[UID] WordPress uses this cookied to keep you logged into the website. It is a session cookie, deleted when you close your browser.

wordpress_logged_in_[UID] is sued to indicate when you’re logged in, and who you are, for most interface use. It is a session cookie, deleted when you close your browser.


Privacy Management

These cookies are used to store information about the which cookies you have consented to on this website. They have a default expiration of 1 year.

We use a GDPR plug-in to keep track of user consents by saving them to the database. We can only do that for logged-in users. For visitors, however, we track their consent by creating a cookie and storing their preferences there. The same logic applies for these cookies.


Tracking - CRM System

_hssrc is set whenever HubSpot changes the session cookie. We set it to 1 and use it to determine if the user has restarted their browser. If this cookie does not exist when we manage cookies, we assume it is a new session.

__hstc is the main HubSpot cookie for tracking visitors. It contains the domain, utk (see below), initial timestamp (first visit), last timestamp (last visit), current timestamp (this visit), and session number (increments for each subsequent session).

_hssc keeps track of sessions. This is used to determine if we should increment the session number and timestamps in the __hstc cookie. It contains the domain, viewCount (increments each pageView in a session), and session start timestamp. It has a default expiration of 30 minutes.

hubspotutk is used to keep track of a visitor's identity. This cookie is passed to HubSpot on form submission and used when de-duplicating contacts. It has a default expiration of 10 years.



These are session cookies used by a revenue calculator on the Newsgain website. Without these cookies, the online calculator may not work.