What’s black and white and ‘read’ all over? A newspaper! That may be an old joke, but that’s still true today, even for newspapers like The New York Times that are more focused on their digital footprint than their print one.
In an interesting move, The New York Times is offering same-day digital access to customers who buy a single-copy newspaper. According to Politico, this is a new promotion without a set end date, and the goal of the initiative is to drive incremental loyalty.
Single-copy purchasers of The New York Times will get a promotional code that has to be activated on the Times’ site (desktop or mobile version), and digital access is good until 11:59 p.m. the same day, says Politico. To use the code, users will also have to have an account on the Times’ website or provide an email address to create an account. Though the Times’ will not aggressively market to these users, it is hoping to capture readers online that it might not ordinarily reach.
“It’s very difficult to get a read of our single-copy customers because we don’t have that direct communication with them that we do with our digital customers,” says Russell Kern, director of consumer marketing, in an interview with Politico.
Considering the Times’ ambitious goals of doubling its digital audience and its digital ad revenue by 2020, as we reported last week, this is one more way for the Times to reach those goals. Currently, the Times has 1.1 million subscribers and about $400 million in digital ad revenue.
To get there, The New York Times must continue to drive customers to consume its news digitally through initiatives like this, as well as product improvements and partnerships. Here are a few other new things the Times is trying to work toward those digital goals:
- Testing Facebook’s Instant Articles
- Partnering with Apple for the Times to be distributed via the new Apple News app
- Partnering with Starbucks to offer Starbucks’ loyalty members daily and weekend briefs via Starbucks’ mobile app
- Joining forces with Evernote to marry NYT Cooking and Evernote
- Partnering with the Financial Times to provide participating hotels with unlimited digital access for their guests
As Ken Doctor of Newsonomics points out in a recent article for NiemanLab, a small percentage of Times’ readers generate the bulk of its income. Of its 60 million unique U.S. visitors, only 1 million of them are paying customers. Those who don’t are digital readers who contribute indirectly to the Times’ bottom line. Instead of ponying up subscription dollars, those readers contribute to the overall traffic of the Times, which is monetized through advertising.
That means that this promotion will be a win for the Times no matter how it goes. If it causes some of the single-copy print readers to subscribe to the Times – whether print, digital or print & digital subscriptions – or if drives them to the Times’ website to boost its overall digital traffic, the Times wins, and the promotion won’t cost them anything.
It is a simple, risk-free way to reach an audience that it wants to learn from and further engage. The Times’ can track the codes and access statistics to see if the promotion is yielding results. Also, it now has contact information for potential subscribers, so it has a way to reach them for future marketing.
This is a great move by the Times, and something that can be duplicated by other subscription companies on a smaller scale. Two thumbs up!