Newspapers Add Card Readers To Vending Machines In Vain Attempt To Sell More Ink

As newsstand prices continue to go up, and circulation numbers take the elevator in the opposite direction, newspaper publishers are looking for new ways to make it a little less daunting for customers to part with the money needed to buy their daily dead tree. One idea: credit card readers on vending machines. “Have you got eight quarters in your pocket right now?” asks Ian Jackson, VP for circulation at The Wall Street Journal, which sells for, yes, $2.00 at street level.

AdAge checked out the latest trend for purchasers of pulp:

Newspaper vending machines represent “considerably less” than 5% of the paper’s single-copy sales, according to Mr. Jackson. But at a time when the Journal wanted to encourage sampling by people who don’t normally read it, refusing service to anyone without $2 in change didn’t seem smart.

The machines are being used more now than they had been before, according to Mr. Jackson, although there are many factors that influence single-copy sales.

Next the New York Post will try card readers at about 10 machines, but that paper’s 50 cent cover price is less of a barrier than the Journal’s two bucks. “There may well be areas where it works, but my best guess right now is it’s not going to tear up trees,” Mr. Jackson said.

Other major papers that are already using card readers aren’t exactly singing their praises. Tribune Co. told AdAge that its five machines in Chicago resulted in “flat to slightly up” sales, The New York Times found that its 10 machines didn’t provide “any significant lift to sales,” and USA Today “hasn’t seen a lift” from the machines.

Newspapers Trying Credit Card Readers on Vending Machines [Advertising Age]