Publishers have started experimenting with suitable products to match with their mastheads in the wake of the audit rule change allowing bundled sales to be included in average net paid sales figures, as reported in The Australian.
News Limited has launched two bundling trials this month, partnering with Coles Express supermarkets in Sydney and with Boost Juice Bars in Melbourne.
APN News & Media said it was talking to retailers in its regional markets. "We have a number of proposals with different clients we are hoping to get in this quarter," Scott Lister, sales and marketing manager with APN's Sunshine Coast Daily told The Australian's Sally Jackson.
"We're trying to see what retailers we've got and what opportunities there might be."
News began a trial this month at 10 Boost Juice outlets in Melbourne, offering a copy of The Herald Sun for an extra 50c with any juice purchase.
In Sydney, the six week trial at 150 Coles Express outlets offers customers a coffee with a weekday edition of The Daily Telegraph for $3.
All News offices were looking at opportunities for similar deals, according to marketing and circulation director, Joe Talcott.
"The rule change is really positive," he said. "It opens up ways of marketing that everybody else has been using for years in other categories and that are finally available for newspapers."
Bundled sales could not previously be included in a newspapers average net paid sales figure unless a newspaper was the "primary purchase" however, these are now being counted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations as of July 1.
Gordon Towell, chief executive of the ABC told B&T magazine, "we will definitely see more activity in the bundled area and I'll be surprised if publishers haven't already got plans in place. But this is not intended to artificially increase circulation figures. That's simply not the case. The reality is that everyone is under pressure and newspapers have to work hard to make their products fresh and relevant."
Publishers had mainly used bundling for sampling and promotion, but the fact such sales will be disclosed as a separate category would continue to give advertisers transparency, according to Stephen Kaye, circulation manager of News's Herald Weekly Times. He said some bundling had been eligible for inclusion in ANPS, but it was "often considered a grey area".
Rob Billington, general manager of sales and circulation at West Australian Newspapers said bundling helped publishers be more innovative.
"It encourages publishers to look at less traditional sales channels, and it's certainly something we will be keen to factor in," Billington said.
Liza McNally, Nationwide News marketing and circulation director, said the Coles Express trial targeted infrequent newspaper purchasers, people who commute by car and tradespeople who started work early.
A spokeswoman for Pacific Magazines, which opposed the audit rule change, told The Australian that the company was now "reviewing forward strategy".
Oliver Milman in B&T concluded, "while the new circulation rules for bundled deals have added a welcome string to publishers' bows, the future of sales and distribution of newspapers is anything but clear."
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