September 25, 2012

Digital newspaper inserts — good or bad?

Short-term good, long-term bad? Or, the other way around? A growing consortium of newspapers is backing Wanderful Media, a company that creates digital versions of newspaper circular inserts. It is a way of looking to the future, to have a digital version of the grocery store and hardware store flyers online, yes. OTOH, in at least a certain percentage of digital readers, are they already going to or whatever anyway? And, as newspapers' complains over Valassis' deal with the USPS show, print circulars are still an important part of newspaper revenues, so ... if this leads retailers to abandon print circulars sooner rather than later, it could be a big issue.

I doubt this will come to non-daily papers any time soon, so no hurt there. And, bigger seven-days will still attract plenty of print-version circulars. Smaller dailies, though? At some point, retailers participating with Wanderful may make a take-it-or-leave-it digital-only offer to some of these papers, perhaps playing them against Valassis/Red Plum on mail-out versions of print circulars.

Especially if smartphone/tablet apps are next, this is another gift horse that may not pony up well for the longer term.

And, of course, there are other issues involved. One I can think of is, will these digital circulars get past ad-block extensions or not?

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