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As the media world becomes more competitive thanks to online and mobile channels, daily newspapers have had to become more resourceful to remain relevant to both readers and advertisers. The West Australian, a daily newspaper in Perth, West Australia, is taking a bold approach to the challenge by incorporating mobile commerce as a service to advertisers.
Starting this past weekend, The West Australian is including QR codes in advertisements, turning a reader's mobile device into a personal shopping assistant. The Perth newspaper is joined in this effort by Point and Pay, a mobile commerce provider, and the Australian unit of payment processor PayPal.
Through the program, advertisers can add QR codes next to products in their ads. When the newspaper's readers scan a code, they are taken to a mobile optimized shopping cart that lets them order and pay for the item from their PayPal account with just a few clicks.
The new effort is not only a way newspapers can engage readers, but also a reflection of the increasing importance of the mobile device as a multipurpose shopping assistant for consumers.
"The consumer path to purchase has clearly shifted to mobile, and we are committed to providing innovative solutions to help traditional media capture this new consumer," said Damian Cook, managing director for Point and Pay. "The mobile commerce revolution is here to stay and we want to provide media and retailers with opportunities to better connect with consumers no matter where they are."
Point and Pay offers a number of solutions aimed at making "traditional" media such as print and outdoor advertising more mobile. The company offers retailers a seamless integration of offline channels with mobile by providing the QR codes as well as the mobile shopping cart and fulfillment and shipping solutions.
PayPal helps to make the mobile shopping experience more convenient with its mobile wallet tool. Readers use their PayPal accounts to pay for merchandise and the mobile wallet prepopulates relevant shipping information into order forms so shoppers don't have to contend with entering information on a small mobile screen.
Mobile commerce and payments is becoming an increasingly important channel for PayPal worldwide. In a recent analyst call, company CEO John Donahoe said the company expects to process $10 billion in mobile transactions globally in 2012, more than double the volume of mobile transactions processed last year.
"There is a huge opportunity for Australian retailers to take advantage of the growth in mobile commerce, providing consumers with seamless shopping experiences powered by PayPal's digital wallet anywhere, any way," said Jeff Clementz, managing director for PayPal Australia.
PayPal has more than 50,000 merchant partners and 4.5 million active user accounts in Australia.
It's yet to be seen how well the mobile-optimized ads will perform for The Western Australian's advertisers, but it's clear that daily newspapers must contend with readers' growing reliance on other outlets for media consumption. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers reported that newspaper circulation rates have dropped nearly 4 percent per year since 2008.
The erosion of traditional print media is a concern for newspapers in a country such as Australia, where smartphone penetration is especially high. According to a report from consulting firm Deloitte, Australia has the second highest smartphone and tablet penetration in the world after the U.S.
"This is the next step in the evolution of print media," said David Bignold, sales director at West Australian Newspapers.
"We're excited to be the first daily newspaper to launch a fully transactional space to help local retailers reach consumers more effectively," Bignold said, adding that it's just one example of how the paper will be including digital content into its traditional portfolio.
A video from PayPal demonstrating its partnership with Point and Pay and The Western Australian is below:
For more stories like this, visit the Mobile/Virtual Wallet research center.