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Walmart, Kmart see up to 18pc click-through via mobile circulars programBy Chantal Tode
Retailers such as Walmart, Kmart, Target and Macy’s, who are participating in a beta pilot to make weekly ad circulars available on mobile news sites, are seeing strong results.
As a result, the program is being made available to more than 1,500 additional local publications. The Associated Press and its iCircular division launched the mobile circular program last fall to help publishers monetize their growing digital audiences. Participating retailers include Dick’s Sporting Goods, jcpenney, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Kmart, Petco, Staples, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walgreens and Walmart.
“From a consumer perspective, we saw significant interest in browsing mobile circulars,” said Jeff Litvack, general manager and chief operating officer at iCircular, New York.
“The average retailer had a click-through rate 1000 percent higher than a traditional mobile ad unit at 6 percent, with mass merchandising retailers having click-through rates as high as 18 percent,” he said. “From our consumer research we learned that 60 percent of these mobile users are receptive shoppers who came to iCircular to browse through offers rather than seeking a specific product.
“In addition, a survey we conducted found that more than six out of 10 shoppers expect to use their mobile phone more frequently as a result of having iCircular in their local news application.”
Extending circular distribution
ICircular’s program is HTML5 based, enabling publishers to integrate digital sales circulars from leading retailers into their mobile Web sites and online outlets and extend their traditional preprint distribution for the circulars.
The idea is to make it easy for mobile users who like to consume news content via their devices to also find and shop for items that are on sale.
The program currently has more than 40 publications and 20 retailers signed up nationwide. The expansion announced this week will see the iCircular mobile shopping program being made available to more than 1,500 newspaper clients of TownNews.com, which will distribute iCircular editions in its weekly and daily newspaper clients’ mobile sites.
The service comes out of beta later this year.
An HTML5 solution
Circulars continue to be popular with both advertisers and budget-conscious consumers.
However, as smartphone adoption grows, users are increasingly consuming a variety of content on these devices, from news and sports to TV shows and films.
The results from the beta pilot suggest there is strong interest from mobile users who consume news content on their devices to also access digital circulars.
During the pilot, the AP found that more than one-third of iCircular users were digital carnivores between the age of 18 and 34 years old who spent between one and two additional minutes per session on the newspaper mobile sites/apps browsing circulars.
The AP also found that the performance of iCircular on Apple devices was more consistent than on Android devices, due to the fragmentation of Android screen sizes and operating systems.
Additionally, the AP found that native SDK solutions, while offering a slightly better experience, are too challenging for publishers in terms of integrating and updating the solutions. As a result, the AP settled on an HTML5 solution because it is more flexible and easier to achieve a consistent rollout and user experience.
The results also speak to the way that newspapers are embracing mobile audience, from providing breaking news to offering digital shopping services via mobile circulars, daily deals, classifieds and more.
“Local newspaper mobile audiences are growing at double digit, and for some local newspapers at triple digit rates, month-over-month,” Mr. Litvack said.
“Newspapers are upgrading every aspect of the mobile experience from better optimizing their mobile Web sites, to creating not just breaking news apps, but specialty apps around their home teams or local events, to offering up deeper browsing experiences through iPad apps and tablet-optimized Web sites,” he said.
“As we roll out iCircular into more newspaper markets, we expect to see significant growth and adoption and with it new opportunities to monetize these audiences for local newspapers.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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