Major retailers are increasingly experimenting with digital advertising options, particularly reaching customers on mobile devices.
The Associated Press is developing a product - iCircular - aimed at extending newspapers' pre-print advertising onto mobile devices.
The AP Board of Directors has voted to test iCircular, which is a mobile version of pre-printed circulars that newspapers carry, mostly in weekend editions.
The product is intended to "fall out" of newspapers mobile products in much the same way that the printed circular falls out of the newspaper, said Jeff Litvack, general manager of AP's Global Product Development. He said iCircular was conceived to "extend the reach" of traditional delivery of pre-prints onto the mobile platform.
The same content that is in the printed pre-prints will be accessible through an HTML-based module that will be displayed in a local newspaper 's mobile web site or mobile app.
The AP will begin testing iCirculars in the summer. TownNews.com has agreed to help facilitate the testing, where appropriate.
"The level of interest in this by retailers is very high," said Mary Junck, president and CEO of Lee Enterprises, and chair of the AP's revenue committee. "In my experience in calling on large retail customers, this is one of the most enthusiastic receptions I have seen. They are impressed by the features, and by the fact that the idea comes from the newspaper industry."
Litvack said iCircular is intended to complement the traditional pre-printed circular sale . Newspapers will be able to add the mobile circular offering to their traditional print circular customers.
Consumers using smart phones will be able to walk into participating stores and browse and search for products, services and deals within a newspaper's mobile application or web site.
He said the data from the circulars will be hosted by the AP. Feeds likely will come from Shop Local, Travidia, My Web Grocer and other sources.
The mobile circulars will be delivered on a zip code basis, with the technology detecting each user's location.
Initially, the product will be available only for AP member newspapers, but Litvack said the product may - after testing - be made available to non-AP newspapers. He said it will be a newspaper-only product.
Litvack said AP bureau chiefs have been briefed on the new product, and member newspapers may contact them for further information.