Do covermounts drive long-term circulation increases?

The Daily Mail plans to stop giving away DVDs and CDs this year, deeming them a costly exercise. Are covermounts worth the investment for newspapers?

NO - Katie Vanneck, interim managing director, digital and new business, News International
DVDs and CDs have worked well in the past around trial and sampling campaigns for new products, such as the compact Times and Guardian Berliner. But, in recent times, the main beneficiary has been the content provider and not the newspaper.

The film and music industries have gained more money in licence fees paid by newspapers for these promotions than newspapers have earned through extra retail sales.

At The Times and The Sunday Times, our focus now is on building reader loyalty and targeting sustainable growth.

Covermounts only work when viewed as one element of an integrated marketing campaign that drives brand affinity and rewards loyalty. They are the drug of ABC uplifts and have masked for too long the real issues facing our industry, and fuelled the creation of promiscuity of purchase rather than a sustainable future.

NO - Nicole Refson, marketing director, Thelondonpaper
They're a great way of driving short-term sales, but not necessarily long-term growth.

Take for example the McFly cover mount on The Mail on Sunday. While this provided the opportunity to reach a new and arguably younger audience for the newspaper, such sharp sales uplifts are not sustainable and the majority of people who bought that paper only did so for the covermount. It would be interesting to see how many actually read it.

Working on a free product, we recognise the challenges of building loyalty among our readers, who are a notoriously fickle audience. They have little brand allegiance and will choose products that offer the best personal value.

"Perkonomics", the act of rewarding loyal customers through a series of perks and privileges, is what will ultimately drive longer-term circulation increases.

YES - Marc Sands, marketing director, Guardian News & Media
Covermounts in all their glory have been a regular staple for a decade to maintain and grow circulation.

For those publications that use them as their primary source of growing circulation, they will have proved a costly mistake and a scary addiction.

However, used judiciously and appropriately, they have a useful role. A role that should be among a diverse range of branded promotions.

At The Guardian and The Observer, we have used them sparingly, but usefully. I would rather our audience remembered us for the seven-day series on Great Interviews, Great Speeches, Great British Poets or our series of ground-breaking wallcharts. All of them sold shedloads of newspapers.

Covermounts have certainly contributed to our overall promotional strategy.

NO - Jo Blake, press director, BLM
While there is no doubt that covermounts do add value to readers, they are not the solution to the long-term decline in national newspapers' circulation.

However, they do provide a reason to purchase for the less loyal, floating reader. In order to keep floating readers, newspapers need to continually invest in their product with a view to the long term.

Continued subscription drives, marketing support and an understanding of readers through research, feedback and loyalty programmes is a start.

By continuing to invest in editorial, online and other platforms, newspapers will ensure their continued success.

Covermounts are a nice trick to get readers to reappraise brands they have dismissed, but they are not the remedy to the serious issue that newspapers need to own up to - long-term circulation decline.

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