Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Target makes major enhancements to its circular app but releases update with major bug

Retailer Target last night issued a major update to its iPad app. The app is a digital version of its circular, but with many more features. If the app were without a major bug, it might be precisely what gives newspaper ad executives nightmares – and it will be once the developers fix the app.
The update to Target for iPad brings in weekly circulars for Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles. But the app's store locator function is broken (see screenshots below) which pretty much makes the app useless for local shoppers – but that will no doubt be ficed soon, either through an app update, or a fix to their internal system.

The update also brings the app up-to-date with the new iPad making it 'retina display' compliant.

The core of the app is the local circular, and until the store locator service is fixed users will find the app worthless, causing many to abandon the app.

The Sunday inserts remain one of the main reasons that newspapers can still count on the weekend paper to be profitable. Newspaper chains that are cutting the frequency of their print runs are keeping the Sunday newspaper.

But in Europe, where the Sunday paper is not chalk full of advertising circulars like in the States, the Sunday paper is fair game for be eliminated. This could easily happen here in the U.S. if advertisers and readers get together through apps such as this one from Target.

Newspapers have known for at least two years that they were vulnerable to new digital advertising platforms such as tablets and especially mobile. The best known initiative is the Associated Press effort iCircular. The product is in "pilot phase" with a slate of publications and retailers, but the effort is moving at a snail's pace – or should that read "at newspaper pace."

The iCirculars program was, at one time, integrated into the apps of newspapers such as the L.A. Times, but a glance of the mobile app shows no such integration now.