Oct 13, 2009 at 04:58 PM
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Sponsored Apps the Answer for Print Media?

Ad pages at print publications fell by an industry average of 29.5% in the second quarter of this year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. One of USA Today's key strategies in an attempt to fend off the downward trend in print media is rooted in mobile applications. While most applications are either consumer paid, or created by brands and distributed for marketing purposes, USA Today's newly launched AutoPilot iPhone app is neither. It's free to consumers, but created as a platform for sponsors.

Gannett today announced that its AutoPilot application will be sponsored by Hampton Hotels.

“USA TODAY is synonymous with travel. Travelers love us and we love being everywhere they need us with innovative new products,” said Matt Jones, vice president, mobile strategy and operations, Gannett Digital. “USA TODAY AutoPilot for iPhone extends our service to travelers to a new platform, truly meeting all of their mobile travel needs.”

“USA TODAY’s AutoPilot sponsored by Hampton Hotels allows consumers access to the world of travel,” said Judy Christa-Cathey, vice president brand marketing, Hampton Hotels. Christa-Cathey added, “Consumers will now have the opportunity to be connected directly to their Hampton Hotel of choice, making booking a room a seamless process for travelers who already know Hampton’s great value and exceptional guest experience all backed by its 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.”

AutoPilot offers travelers the following other features:

  • AutoPilot — Easily track trip and flight itineraries in a simple to digest format. Using the device’s GPS capabilities and your schedule as a guide, AutoPilot offers real-time updates as your location and travel needs change.
  • Flight Tracker and Delays – Keep track of your departing or arriving flight via flight number, airport or route. Get up to the minute delay information for more that 16,000 airports, 1,400 airlines and 100,000 daily flights.
  • Travel Directory — Get quick, one-click phone number or web site access from a comprehensive directory of travel providers, ranging from airlines, hotels and car rental agencies.
  • Weather — Get current weather conditions, up-to-the minute regional radar and the five day forecasts at your exact location via GPS. Review national weather maps including Doppler radar, temperature and precipitation forecasts.
  • More –signature USA TODAY destination and travel feature content including Ten Great Places and expert USA TODAY blogs such as Today in the Sky, Hotel Check-In and more.

    To create the application, Gannett Digital partnered with Mercury Intermedia of Brentwood, Tennessee. The app is free via Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

    Are sponsored applications traditional media's answer to the decline in print media?