The Chicago Sun-Times is set to launch the first bitcoin-enabled QR code advertisements this week.
The ads, which will first appear on 2nd July, allow readers to make direct purchases of tickets for an upcoming concert featuring famed hip-hop power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The Chicago-based newspaper teamed up with Coinbase and Blockchain on the digital currency initiative. Ticket broker Golden Coast Tickets will be handling the actual purchases.
The Sun-Times first began integrating bitcoin in February. At the time, it was the first major US newspaper to begin accepting bitcoin payments. Overall, the effort has netted the company new subscriptions, a result that contributed to the announcement of the bitcoin-enabled advertisements in May.
The initiative demonstrates a potential new way forward for the world of advertising, with implications for the time and context of consumers purchase decisions. As well, bitcoin-enable advertisements could open up new revenue streams for media organizations as well.
Blockchain CEO Nic Cary echoed the sentiment that the Sun-Times project presents a new avenue for transactions, saying:
“Our core mission is to reimagine how the world transacts. When Chicago.com approached us we were very excited to participate. We’re eager to inspire unique experiences that would not otherwise be possible without Bitcoin.”
Notably, concert-goers who opt to pay through the advertisements have the opportunity to get significant discounts if they act early.
There are three categories for tickets. The first eight tickets for each category will be sold at a 25% discount, a noticeable difference considering that the most affordable tickets for the Beyoncé/Jay-Z show sell for $450. Those unable to buy the tickets in time can still benefit from up to a 10% discount on the listed ticket price.
The advertisements are designed to be simple to use, and instructions are included for those who may be less familiar with the operational aspects of digital currency.
Josh Metnick, chief technology officer for the Sun-Times’ parent companny Wrapports, told CoinDesk that ultimately, ads like the ones for the Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert could result in more people learning about bitcoin. He predicted that bitcoin-enabled advertisements, if successful, will likely become more common, saying:
“I don’t see this type of commerce going away. It’s the first attempt at it, but it’s just going to get easier and easier.”
Growing impact on print
In addition to providing a new avenue for bitcoin to be spent and discovered, the bitcoin advertisements hold the potential for creating additional revenue streams for newspapers.
Metnick remarked that while the concept is new, all forms of print may one day feature built-in bitcoin payments integration. This includes airplane tickets, flyers hung up on the sides of buildings or even billboards.
“This could implicate all print.”
It remains to be seen what impact digital currency will continue to have on newspapers, and the Sun-Times in particular. When the Sun-Times first proposed the bitcoin-enabled QR code ads, Metnick told CoinDesk the newspaper may experiment with other forms of bitcoin acceptance.
At the time, Metnick suggested that altcoin support, as well as direct author tipping, could form part of future digital currency initiatives.
Images via Wrapports