Mark Challinor, commercial director at Trinity Mirror, looks at the opportunities presented to publishers by direct operator billing.
Since joining Trinity Mirror at the beginning of this year, I have been examining opportunities for getting closer to our readers, while making it easier for them to pay for our offerings.
I believe that the answer, at least in part, could be mobile payments. Specifically, the ability to bill readers direct to their phone bill.
Whether it’s for subscriptions, offers or events, payment is an interaction that can’t be removed from the buying process, or circumnavigated by the consumer. That means it has to be as simple as possible.
According to Google, just nine per cent of users will stay with a mobile site or app if it doesn’t ‘satisfy their need’, while 66 per cent will take actions that have a ‘minus impact’ on the brand. In our case, that could mean going to another media company’s mobile site or app.
Removing the friction
At present, most media brands, including Trinity Mirror, ask readers to complete a long-winded, registration document to sign up. Then we ask them to fill in payment details. Finally, once they’ve input their name, address, card number, expiry date, and the rest, if they are still hanging in there, the customer eventually reaches a message informing them that their subscription has begun.
Direct operator payments turn this on its head, simply asking for the mobile number to be input. The reader is asked to click on a link in a confirmation SMS to complete their registration. And that is it – the payment is actioned immediately.
This removes almost all friction from the process. It’s part of the reason that Spotify has seen huge growth in subscribers in recent years, for instance, as it has adopted this payment method. As the UK’s biggest publisher, I want a piece of that action for our portfolio of newspapers.
As long as the transaction is under £30, the current legal limit for one transaction, I can send subscribers a further SMS each month and remind them of their auto-renewal, which they agreed to at the outset. It’s easy, it’s frictionless and, hopefully, it’s a no brainer.
Improving engagement, loyalty and spending
Overall, it seems to me there are three ways that smart media brands can leverage mobile payments to generate engagement, create loyalty, and influence interactions based on better experiences.
Let’s start with engagement. Consumers move effortlessly across channels to make purchasing decisions, while also quickly shifting devices in the process. Media companies can connect the payment mechanism with their brand to improve the user experience.
On the second point, loyalty programmes and mobile payments are constantly converging. Many brands now enable shoppers to use loyalty points to make purchases or incentivise extra spending through gift cards, price-match guarantees, or one-off promotions.
The main mobile wallets, like Apple, Android, and Samsung Pay, enable consumers to store multiple loyalty and reward cards, and keep track of their loyalty balances all in one place. Starbucks, for instance, provides customers with convenient ways to order ahead and pay in-store with no hassle, cementing loyalty with the customer experience.
I believe that the key to leveraging value and mobile payments is going far beyond just offering a branded payment solution, to create one that actually makes life easier, or adds real value for our customers.
Finally, mobile can impact on consumer spending, simply by offering better user experiences.
Mobile payments are now influencing consumer choices on where to shop, when to buy, and what to buy. Retailers, for example, are already capitalising on consumer desire for convenience by using innovations in mobile payment technology to connect with consumers when and how they require it.
There’s no doubt in my mind that both consumers and marketers – and in my case specifically, news media companies – can all become winners when payment processing is channelled through a mobile wallet. It’s still early days, but from what I have seen already, there is an exciting time ahead for all of us, in media or otherwise.
This article first appeared in the June 2017 print edition of Mobile Marketing. You can read the whole issue here.