Sunday, September 23, 2007

IDEA: London paid daily selling at newsboxes with prepaid card

ORIGINAL URL: - a knowledge base for media professionals
POSTED: September 21, 2007

The Cashless Society Finally Hits Paid-For Newspaper Newsstands -- And What A
Great Idea It Is!

By Philip M. Stone

LONDON -- Associated Newspapers has hit upon a gem of an idea for its faltering Evening Standard newspaper that competes against two free newspapers in London. Prepay your newspaper via the Internet and just tap a card on an electronic pad at the newsstand and not only do you get a cut-price paper but also reward points, and even free I-Tunes.

The Standard is taking a page from the very successful Transport for London campaign in which most Londoners now prepay their public transport via what are called .Oyster. cards by tapping them on a pad located in every bus and at every Underground (subway, Metro) station. The system charges cut-rate prices for trips and puts a cap on the daily travel expense. Not only has it speeded up bus boarding procedures, the system actually works. It was surely just a matter of time before the private sector tried it, so why not a newspaper?

An added beauty to the system is that users .top-up. their cards via the Internet, paying by credit or debit cards. But to do this one has to register and will need to provide such information as name and address, post code etc. Now to a newspaper that is almost entirely sold on the newsstand what a goldmine of information that is going to be gained to attract advertisers.

The Standard knows it now has a daily circulation of some 270,000, including about one-third bulk sales, but if an advertiser were to ask management exactly who the readers were there is no answer. except to say it is people on their way home from work.

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When The British Have A Real Newspaper War It.s a Beaut . A Former Scotland Yard Detective Poking Into Trash All Over London, Embarrassing Video Released on YouTube, Ads Aimed at Damning The Other In The Eyes of Advertisers, And Oh So Much Money Bled By Murdoch And RothermereEven though London has 10 daily national AM newspapers all are basically at peace with one another. Staff poaching goes on all the time, once in a while one will cut its newsstand price forcing others to follow, a lot of money is thrown around looking for the elusive exclusive, but basically it.s civilized peace. How boring! But now a battle royal has broken out between the two new PM Free papers and it looks like no holds barred. Now talking!

Here.s A Lesson From The UK.s Sunday Times . Raise Your Cover Price To A New Industry High And Even The Most Loyal Readers Will Depart -- A 20p Increase in September Has So Far Cost It More Than 100,000 In CirculationSticker shock can apply to a newspaper.s cover price as the UK.s Sunday Times has learned. The term got its start in the US when buyers looking at a new car.s price sticker in the auto showroom were shocked to see figures far higher than expected. Well, the Sunday Times raised its price in September to £2 ($3.90, .3), the highest in the UK, and the sticker shock has so far cost it more than 100,000 circulation.

Fighting Two New Free Newspapers London.s Evening Standard Raised Its Price 25%. How Many Print Marketing Gurus Out There Believe That Strategy Was Right? Hint: The Combined Free Newspaper Circulation Is Already 8% Up

In announcing the scheme this week the Standard did not say how much of a discount the card would be worth on each day.s newspaper. A year ago the newspaper raised its price from 40 pence to 50 pence as part of a two-fisted campaign to fight the introduction of Rupert Murdoch.s new free PM newspaper, thelondonpaper. The other fist in Associated.s stable was to bring out its own free newspaper, London Lite. Both started with a circulation of 400,000 each weekday and after a few months thelondonpaper increased its daily run to 500,000.

And the Evening Standard has not fared well in the year, although the spin from Associated is that it has done remarkably well to be doing what it is doing. The official August audit numbers showed its circulation down 11.38% from last August to 277,555 copies but dig into those numbers and the results are really much worse. A year ago the circulation was 317,511 of which 12% (some 38,000 copies) were bulk sales to hotels, airlines and the like at greatly discounted prices. Today.s 277,555 figure includes 34% bulk sales (95,111 copies). Do a like-on-like of full price sales and it is 182,444 today compares to 279,433 of a year ago, down almost 100,000 copies (34%).

So by using the card it can implement a climb-down of that year-ago price hike.

Andrew Mullins, the Standard.s managing director, explained, .We are very excited to be the first newspaper to introduce this cashless and reward based payment system. Over the next two years in London (the central area) will increasingly become a cashless payment zone and the Evening Standard will be helping drive and leads this trend. The Evening Standard Eros card is a genuine innovation. It not only provides greater convenience for our loyal readers but also appropriate added value benefit rewards..

And Mullins emphasized the marketing goldmine the system should provide. .For the first time we will have in-depth knowledge of how many people are buying the paper, and on what day and at what time..

As an incentive for the cards that are being given out for the first time next week, when users top up those cards on the Internet they will be eligible for five free downloads from I-Tunes. In a statement the Standard said, .Users of the card will discover that it saves money over paying directly by cash. And because of the loyalty rewards package, cardholders will benefit from additional privileges as well as exclusive added value and discount offers provided by card partners.

And the Standard is not the only London paper getting into the card game. Earlier in the month Rupert Murdoch.s tabloid Sun announced it was teaming up with a third party to offer a pre-paid, pay-as-you-go MasterCard with chip and PIN code.

But why call the card Eros, the Greek mythical God of love? Take a look at the illustration at the top of this story and you should be able to make out that the logo for the card is superimposed over a statue of Eros, and that statue has been a part of the Standard.s logo for many years (anyone out there know how that came to be and why?) The original aluminum statue was sculpted by Alfred Gilbert and finished in 1893 and it has stood for most years since then Piccadilly Circus . London.s Time Square. Associated Newspapers has tried to trademark the statue, but is opposed by the Westminster City Council on the basis that such a well known symbol of London should not be monopolized for private reasons.

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