Digital Coupons: Can iCirculars Save Newspapers

The Associated Press is hoping that digital circulars can help newspapers fight a dwindling subscriber base. The AP has 40 newspapers on board with mobile coupons accessible on their mobile sites as part of initiative called iCircular.

According to PaidContent, the iCircular program will first roll out in iPhone apps of participating newspapers and will at some point be available for Android devices. Apparently the iCircular will also make an appearance on newspaper mobile sites in time.


Mary Junck, chairman of AP’s board of directors’ revenue committee and CEO of Lee Enterprises told Paid Content that the iCircular is, “essentially an app within an app.” adding that it could be, “as integrated into the newspapers as a Sunday circular is in the print editions.”

iCircular for mobile smartphonesiCirculars have a large number of participating retailers including

  • Kohl’s
  • Lowes
  • Macy’s
  • Sears
  • Toys R Us
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Staples
  • JC Penny
  • and more

These retailers give the program a bit of hope, but I’m confused about the staggered rollout with a focus on the iPhone. In my experience newspapers have a significant hurdle to jump in delivering a solid mobile web experience, let alone delivering mobile circulars and coupons.


If the Associated Press wants to make this new program work, they’ll need to do a better job of delivering mobile circulars than the retailers themselves. This could be really great if it were tied into the in store pickup options offered by many retailers, but based on the benefits that Jeffrey Litvack, AP’s GM’s/global product development, rattled off — shopping lists, loyalty cards and social media sharing — I don’t expect to see anything that will shake up mobile coupons and ads.


Perhaps the most confusing thing about this whole initiative is that the AP keeps talking about mobile coupons, but at the end of the day it looks like they are just delivering sunday circulars. Unfortunately we don’t see Proctor and Gamble or Red Plum, where you get most of your coupons on Sunday listed.

If your local paper has iCirculars send us a screenshot so we have an idea what this offers.