With the world's biggest and most respected news publications continuing to hemorrhage advertising dollars, how can publications successfully apply a tourniquet? The Drum reports that UK's The Sun is going where many other newspapers have gone before: They're beta-testing a reward program for loyal readers. What's more, the Sun not only believes the program can shore up circulation; it might also become a revenue source for the company.
The program, called Sun Savers, is a simple cash-back program in which readers earn rewards by collecting 28 codes throughout the print edition of the Sun and then scanning them through the publication's mobile app. The program recently launched in beta mode, and the company plans to roll it out nationally in 2017.
According to the Drum, the Sun hopes to attract advertiser dollars through collecting valuable reader data, and then inviting advertisers to push relevant content and offers to those readers through the app. The Drum notes the similarity between the Sun Savers program and O2's successful Priority Moments program, which also allows advertisers to push content to app users. Money quote from Sun managing director David Robinson:
"Sun Savers is probably a good example of an area where we will build out a program we believe will be profitable for us and the customer. It may be something that starts as a loyalty program but we might push content around it, build a business off the back of that."
With print advertising continuing to decline and digital ads so far failing to make up the shortfall, newspapers will continue to try to innovate their way to profitability. Uniting print and mobile to create stickier relationships with loyal readers is a good place to start. Here's hoping that the Sun also rises.