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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Newspapers across the U.S. debut mobile coupon app in effort to offset declining ad revenue



In a bid to revive their dying ad industry, the Associated Press and 40 newspapers have joined forces to launch iCircular, an HTML 5-based mobile phone app for real-time coupon deals, reported PaidContent.org.

The app will be available within the apps of participating newspapers, such as the New York Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. So far about 20 retailers, including Kohl’s Department Stores, Macy’s, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walgreens and Walmart, have signed on.

The app will allow users to search for specific products and create shopping lists, and the app even will be able to pinpoint users' locations and direct them to nearby deals, according to the Associated Press (AP).

First announced last year, the app is meant to "reinvigorate one of the few remaining stalwarts of print newspaper revenue: the Sunday ad circulars," according to Poynter.org.

Beyond struggling to compete with the instant, free news available online, newspapers also have had to grapple with declining ad revenues as companies like Craigslist and Groupon have come on the scene. Newspapers have seen 20 straight quarters of declines in print ad spending, according to Marketwatch.

Still, spending on print advertising circulars has remained steady, the Wall Street Journal said, adding that the iCircular is an attempt to "defend that turf and recoup other declines."

"The iCircular product is a way to match up a historical newspaper marketplace with the new mobile era," said Mary Junck, chairman of AP's board of directors' revenue committee, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. "Mobile is a really hot category for revenue growth for publishing companies."

Rick Edmonds noted for Poynter.org that "with even moderate success, newspapers will be well-positioned to hold business as consumer preferences swing more strongly from print to electronic formats...A significant presence in smart-phone commerce would count as an important business win for an industry that hasn’t had many lately."



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