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Geico taps Reader?s Digest SMS program to mobilize print ads

Advertisers such as Geico, Nature?s Bounty and others are taking advantage of a new SMS program from Reader?s Digest, enabling readers of the print magazine to respond to advertisers? offers from their mobile phones.

Reader?s Digest is leveraging text messaging to make it easy for readers to access additional content and advertiser information via their mobile phones. Participating partners in the January 2014 issue, including Geico, Nature?s Bounty, Collette Travel and Texas Tourism, have already received nearly 25,000 text responses to their offers.

?Up until now, we've relied on email, mail and our Web site for reader responses,? said Alain Begun, vice president of business development and marketing at Reader?s Digest Association, New York. ?Our research has shown that the vast majority of our subscribers have smartphones and the time was right to begin offering the texting option as a means of communicating with our readers.?

Interactive billboards
A full-page second cover ran immediately following the actual cover in all three million copies of the January issue that highlighted the evolution of Reader's Digest and invited readers to turn the page to text to win prizes. The following page featured nine different text codes, one for Reader's Digest and one for each of the eight participating partners.

For each text readers sent, they received an entry into a sweepstakes to win one of five Kindle Fires.

Since launching the program, Reader?s Digest has had several additional partners sign on to run similar programs in coming issues.

To further support the introduction of the redesigned Reader?s Digest, the publisher has placed billboards at New York's Times Square and Grand Central Station featuring digital ads encouraging passersby to text the keyword ?READUP? to the short code 51684 in order to receive a free digital download of the January issue.

New look
Reader?s Digest was recently redesigned with a refreshed, modern look that made its debut in the January 2014 issue.

Using Gold Mobile?s platform, print readers are able to enter sweepstakes, receive digital offers, interact directly with advertisers and join the Reader?s Digest Mobile Club using their phones.

The goal is to enhance and expand upon the content in the print edition and provide advertisers with a way to reach readers via mobile with an immediate, interactive and customized experience so they can get closer to the publication?s most engaged readers.

Readers are able to access extra articles, video and audio as well as sweepstakes that have been designed for mobile devices.

Advertisers can leverage mobile promotions to provide extra information about their products, direct consumers to their Web site or gain feedback. Advertisers will also be able to measure how readers are interacting with their ads in Reader?s Digest.

Mobile readers
The SMS program is the latest example of how Reader?s Digest is focusing on engaging mobile users.

Late last year, the publisher unveiled a new iPhone edition to complement its existing array of iPhone apps around specific topics such as jokes, scenic drives and easy meals (see story).

Reader?s Digest also redesigned its tablet editions for the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook and launched a mobile version of the magazine. The company reports that over 35 percent of the traffic to comes from mobile devices.

?Providing mobile access for those consumers was a big motivator for the redesign of the magazine,? said Jason Howie, director of marketing at Gold Mobile, Clark, NJ. ?The introduction of the Reader?s Digest iPhone application released this January was a way to connect with those on-the-go readers.

?Similarly, the integration of mobile promotions into the Reader?s Digest print editions will take advantage of in-the-moment impulses readers may have for offers, sweepstakes and other additional content,? he said. ?The use of text messaging will also provide Reader?s Digest advertisers with new ways to touch consumers and to measure advertisement interaction.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York