No more The Times with your caviar – free copies of the paper with groceries from Waitrose’s Ocado online delivery service are the latest victims of News International’s retreat from bulk distribution.
“We’ve been talking to our friends at The Times, and we’ve made a joint decision to stop including a free newspaper with Ocado deliveries from 18th January 2010,” Ocado says in an email to its customers.
“We’re looking at continuing our partnership in other ways, however; and, to begin with, we’re offering you a free seven-day trial of the electronic version of The Times.”
Ocado customers get a seven-day trial of the e-edition using a coupon code. Though the trial is only for the digital-edition, page-turner replica, Times Online is due to relaunch behind a paywall this Spring, so will the paper be interested in offering partners codes for the new site, too?
The relationship began in October 2008, when reports (Greenslade) said Ocado’s 65,000 weekly deliveries would add 10,000 copies to The Times‘ circulation. What’s more, they were the right sort of customers – affluent, foodie and inhabiting only certain parts of England.
But that was only attractive until News International decided last year to court paying customers instead of advertising eyeballs – it’s been cutting so-called “bulk” distribution, the giving away of papers with hotel stays, gym membership etc. In December, The Times cut bulk deliveries by 71 percent to 13,237 copies, ABCs showed.
It’s also emblematic of our age’s move from atoms to bits that the paper would stop delivery via a van network in favour of intangible paperless distribution.