This week Jumia Food, the food ordering website and app, added an item to the bottom of restaurant menus on its platforms; for Shs2000, you can get a Daily Monitor newspaper with your meal, it reads. The addition follows a partnership between Jumia and Monitor Publications announced last week.
Igasira Neville, the head of marketing and public relations at Jumia Food, says the partnership will see the two companies capitalising on each other’s strengths. Jumia Food has probably the only decent business-to-consumer delivery operation in Kampala, while Monitor has a wide online reach.
Monitor will use Jumia’s platform to expand the circulation of its flagship newspaper (other publications distributed by Monitor do not show in the app), while Jumia gets promotion on Monitor’s platforms in return.
Monitor’s report on the partnership mentions “convenience” and the need to extend its “shelf life on the market.” What that means is that it is banking on Jumia to deliver to customers who might have forgotten to buy the newspaper. Plus, they can now order the newspaper at any time of the day.
The assumption is that the customers who order the newspaper will not have read its content, so much that they will want to buy a physical copy in the evening, for example. And that they can only get their news from a newspaper.
The Daily Monitor website is the most visited website in Uganda – according to Alexa – due to a number of reasons, not least the fact that it carries most of the newspaper’s content. The users of Jumia Food’s platforms are also, on the whole, savvy internet users. In short, the type of people who will visit Monitor’s website early in the morning, and are content with getting all the information they need online.
An email to Monitor’s marketing department went unanswered, so we do not have the official version of what else was in play for Daily Monitor. But the possibility that it was looking at reaching new readers through Jumia, gaining customer loyalty, and utilising it as a more efficient distribution platform for the newspaper cannot be discounted.
Igasira did not agree with our notion that most of Jumia Food’s regular users are young, saying everyone needs to eat. But it not off the mark, and is probably true. Monitor could be looking at Jumia Food’s platform as a way to reach this demographic and get them to buy newspapers.
Any platform that gives the newspaper’s circulation an edge is welcome, in any case. Its circulation has remained below 20,000 copies for over a year, according to figures from South Africa’s Audit Bureau of Circulations. It sold an average of 9,399 copies less than New Vision in the second quarter of this year, and also registered a drop from the first quarter – when elections gave circulation a bump.
It remains to be seen how the partnership will impact Monitor’s sales. But we shall keep checking, and will report any updates.
Monitor is also tweaking its online operations, even as it moves to improve the circulation of its physical newspaper. It recently made several editorial changes as part of a digital first strategy which will prioritise publishing developing stories to the website instead of reserving them for the next day’s newspaper.
As part of the strategy, Monitor will “deliver credible news to the online audience as it breaks, then provide the explanatory and day-two journalism in the newspaper,” executive editor Charles Odoobo-Bichachi told the African Centre for Media Excellence.
Bichachi says the newspaper is already seeing dividends in the form of increased engagement. But such dividends for the website are not new. It moved to its current position as Uganda’s most visited website on the back of a different digital first strategy (and with fewer managing editors) when, during the walk to work demonstrations of 2011, it provided live updates, usually throughout the day.
Monitor also redesigned its website a few months ago, finally moving onto the neater platform its Kenyan sister newspaper, Daily Nation, has been using since August 2013. One of the more pertinent features on the site is the linking of recent stories from newspapers in the Nation Media Group stable, giving readers even more options.