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British Marie Claire, InStyle embrace text-to-pay print magazine subscriptions

August 28, 2014

photo[3]_opt-17British publisher IPC Media, whose magazine titles include Marie Claire and InStyle, has selected Boku’s mobile-payments platform for a system that lets users sign up for print magazine subscriptions, without the need for a credit or debit card, by simply texting a keyword to a short number.

The charge for the magazine subscription appears on the subscriber’s carrier bill, or is deducted from their prepaid balance using Boku’s e-money product. The text-to-pay system shows how mobile can be leveraged to build engagement among young, mobile-first consumers in traditional media such as print magazines.

“As this is a solution that can be advertised anywhere, from billboards to magazines covers to in magazine ads to direct mail, it offers publishers the ability to project an innovative approach across many brand touch points,” said Ray Ramillosa, Boku’s vice president of marketing. “With that said, this solution had been designed to work in concert with existing channels to ensure a consistent brand experience.

“For example, when a user subscribes via text-to-pay they will still receive an email confirmation with all of the relevant details about their subscription,” he said.

Boosting subscriptions
Text-to-pay could produce a jump in subscriptions for print magazine publishers struggling to remain relevant, particularly among mobile-savvy consumers.

“If you think about the use of inserts cards, which are one primary way that magazine subscriptions are driven today, it takes time to fill those cards out and mail them in and wait,” Mr. Ramillosa said. “It also takes time for the publisher to process and collect payment.

“This new text-to-pay solution offers a way for consumers to take immediate action at the precise moment they want to subscribe and way for publishers to immediately capture payment,” he said. “As such we expect to drive significant uptick in magazine subscriptions.”

Readers of IPC publications will see print advertisements and inserts in physical magazines which include a short code that can be texted to a specific number. Once the code is texted to that number, customers will be able to subscribe to the publication using only their mobile phone.

After confirmation via text, the subscriber will complete the registration process, including delivery address, through a mobile website.

The charge for the magazine subscription appears on the subscriber’s carrier bill, or is deducted from their prepaid balance using Boku’s e-money product.

The system advances traditional publishers’ efforts to leverage mobile to create a more seamless experience for consumers.

In the past, some magazines have deployed mobile to provide readers with extra, exclusive content. In October, HGTV Magazine made its Fiat-sponsored “High/Low List” feature shoppable and shareable by adding a digital watermark to its November issue.

Using mobile payments to boost print-magazine subscriptions.

Using mobile payments to boost print-magazine subscriptions.

The nine-page feature included a small image with copy encouraging readers to scan the page using Digimarc’s mobile application. The landing page allowed consumers to purchase the items in the feature as well as share them on social media.

Payment tool
IPC’s text-to-pay system has implications for the importance and adoption of mobile phones as a payment tool.

“While mobile payments in stores/at the point of sale with technologies like NFC and bluetooth get a lot of media attention, this is an example of how other types of mobile payments – in this case for carrier billing based mobile payments – can truly revolutionize an existing process while adding real value for both consumers and publishers/merchants,” Mr. Ramillosa said.

“While the use of text-to-pay with publishing is a new and exciting application of carrier billing based mobile payments, there are many other ways that this form of payment can be used to revolutionize the payment process in the real world.

“Carrier billing is often associated with the purchase of virtual goods, for example, an in-game virtual good purchase, but Boku has been working with merchant and publisher partners to take carrier billing beyond that into use for digital and physical goods and services,” he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

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