Archive for the ‘Coupons’ Category

YPG Buys Deals Sites, 411 Brand

February 22, 2010

I’ve been thinking recently that yellow pages providers increasingly should think of themselves as “local holding companies,” with a portfolio of sites and brands to address different audience segments and/or advertiser needs. The “yellow pages” will be an effective tool for some consumers and advertisers but not everyone — one size doesn’t fit all anymore. 

There are going to need to be other brands and sites that publishers operate in order to reach audiences and advertisers for whom “yellow pages” is no longer as meaningful or effective a tool. This is the concept in part behind AT&T’s Buzz.com

YPG appears to be moving in this general direction having recently acquired a restaurant vertical Restaurantica. And today the company announced that it had acquired RedFlagDeals.com, “a leader in providing online promotions and shopping tools to Canadians. With 2.2 million unique visitors every month.”

YPG also said it was buying the 411.ca brand and making an investment in the company that previously owned it:

Yellow Pages Group (YPG) and 411 Local Search Corp., operator of 411.ca™, announced today that they have signed an agreement under which terms YPG will purchase the 411.ca brand and domain names and acquire an ownership interest in 411 Local Search Corp. The agreement will further enable both companies to leverage the online traffic between YPG’s leading Canada411.ca™ and YellowPages.ca™ properties, and 411.ca, a fast-growing online directory. This agreement that unites two of Canada’s largest local search engines will provide enhanced online reach for advertisers and a greater experience for users.

The deals site acquisition is particularly timely because coupons and offers are very hot (extending into mobile). There are two other shopping-related destinations that come with that deal according to the release:

  • RedFlagDeals.com, the largest aggregator of discounts and coupons on the web and mobile with hundreds of new deals posted every week.
  • PriceCanada.com, a price comparison engine, allowing users to search dozens of online retailers, compare product features and make informed purchases.
  • Scarlett Lounge, the leading source for deals in fashion and beauty for women.

As an aside, YPG has a site with great potential in Answers (from Praized), but it’s currently underdeveloped. It could morph into a FourSquare or Aardvark-like site in mobile. 

But what do you think of the general idea I’m asserting above: that YP publishers should operate a range of brands and sites in the local segment rather than relying on a single YP-branded site or more than one, similar YP-like sites?

Grouponing: Daily Deals Heat Up

February 16, 2010

Groupon is all the rage. While its model is simply a reinvention and updating of Mercata (which shut down in 2001) the timing was right, as coupons gained massive traction and consumers sought to save money during the recession.

There are now many companies in the same segment or trying a similar model (partial list):

  • Living Social
  • Yipit
  • Groopswoop
  • SocialBuy
  • TownHog

8Coupons, which has been around for some time, has also added a city specific daily deals feature, built around their “top 8 deals” idea:

However 8Coupons is not a Groupon imitator. It started as a mobile couponer and has switched to a more PC centric model. (See: and .)

Previously email newsletter Daily Candy was sold to Comcast for $125 million. Groupon is already valued at $250 million. Facebook could win in this segment if it chose to do group buying, daily deals or social shopping more broadly.

However inventory is key for success here; no single provider or channel has all the content so deals (or other ways of obtaining content [UGC]) are a must in the space.

Could Facebook “Own” Shopping?

February 5, 2010

After the recent acquistion or merger of social shopping/fashion sites ThisNext and Stylehive, I started thinking about Facebook and Shopping.

Facebook is the new Google in the sense that it could hypothetically “own” market segments/sectors if the company devoted itself to doing so. (This was until recently the belief about every new area Google entered.) For example, TechCrunch writes about a new “full featured” webmail being developed at FB — the implication being that it would be highly successful and potentially threaten other webmail clients (read: Yahoo).

Facebook isn’t a good fit for all use cases. But it is for some. Shopping is one of them in my mind. Hearst-owned Kaboodle is perhaps the most effective of the “social shopping” sites but it’s still “under the radar” for most folks.

I conducted a little poll on Facebook the other day and asked people: “If Facebook were to develop a shopping site that offered products or discounts on products would you use it?” I didn’t get many responses, which either says something about me or Facebook. But “discounts” is the key word in that sentence.

Think about a deal of the day (LivingSocial) or group buying (Groupon) or simply a deal center (e.g., RetailMeNot or Ask Deals) featuring money saving offers or incentives that are then broadcast back to others via news feeds. This sort of thing I believe (assuming it’s presented well) would be a massive hit.

Agree or think that Facebook is just for “silly fun”?

Verizon Launches Cross-Platform Coupons

February 3, 2010

Verizon has partnered with Cellfire to offer grocery coupons through FIOS (TV), online and via mobile devices. According to the release out yesterday:

It’s simple for customers to sign up for Spend Smart coupons on Verizon’s three screens: Verizon Wireless Mobile Web under the Shopping channel, Verizon FiOS Internet in the Entertainment and Apps channel, and through FiOS TV’s Widget Bazaar Applications Marketplace.  Customers can also access Spend Smart coupons at www.vzspendsmart.com.  When customers sign up on one of these services, the information is automatically synched to the other two, allowing them to view and use coupons on each platform.

To register, customers need to provide their shoppers club or loyalty club numbers from participating grocery stores, then will be able to view, save and use the coupons that are currently available for that retailer . . .

This is broader though “mechanically” similar to the way that AOL Shortcuts works with existing loyalty cards.

Another company M-Dot Network, which is now emerging, does something quite similar in the grocery and retail space: linking offers with existing loyalty cards — or a mobile telephone number (+ PIN).

The interesting thing in the latter case is that someone could be prompted to receive a deal/offer in the store (as opposed to ahead of time) via SMS and then receive and redeem it at the POS a few minutes later.

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If you missed the terrific Internet2Go Mobile Couponing webinar earlier today, you can register and watch “on demand” here.

Hazzah! Coupons Webinar Tomorrow

February 2, 2010

Behold the power of coupons:

Einstein Bros. Bagels is telling potential customers on Facebook, and, at least in visible numbers, it’s paying off. The bagel-and-schmear giveaway started less than three full days ago, and already the bagel chain has increased its Facebook fan count from a measly 4,700 to a massive 336,000-plus. 

This makes perfect sense when you consider that coupons and deals are the most desired type of ads on social networking sites:

Tomorrow Shooger, ValPak and I will be sharing data and discussing offers and coupons in the digital and mobile arenas (emphasizing mobile).

I just got off the phone with the speakers, Matt Myers (Shooger) and Nikki Atchison (Valpak), and it should be a very interesting session. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions at the end. And the slides are all available after the conclusion. Shooger’s also going to do a fun “hands-on” demonstration during the session. 

If you haven’t registered and want to attend you can sign up here. It’s free. The session is tomorrow at 10 Pacific/12 Central/1 Eastern. 

RetailMeNot December Coupon Data

January 29, 2010

Below are data from the latest monthly coupons report from RetailMeNot for December, 2009. You can download the pdf file here

One interesting observation is that with the single exception of Amazon, all the top “online” coupons pertain to brands that have physical stores as well.

Those interested in Internet2Go’s free webinar on mobile coupons (February 3 at 1 ET/10 Pacific) should register. The webcast features me, ValPak and Shooger.

Looking for Deals: Newspapers Still Reign

January 25, 2010

Harris Interactive recently found that when it comes to looking for deals and coupons most people are still looking in newspapers and magazines — or believe these are the best places to find them. However, there are discrepancies when the data are segmented by age  and education.

Younger and more educated users tend to seek deals from online more frequently (click to enlarge):

Mobile isn’t on here but it’s growing in importance as a offer distribution channel. We’ll be talking about that with ValPak and Shooger on February 3 in a free webinar.

Mobile Coupons Webinar: Valpak, Shooger

January 22, 2010

Deals, coupons and offers are hugely popular with consumers and very effective for both new customer acquisition and loyalty. Indeed, coupons (broadly defined) is one of the few types of mobile advertising that consumers say they’re actually interested in.

Every company/publisher in local and mobile needs to figure out whether and/or how coupons, offers and deals fit into their consumer and advertiser strategies. That’s partly why Internet2Go is doing a free webinar about mobile coupons.

It happens on February 3 at 1pm Eastern/10 Pacific/9pm GMT.

The speakers will be ValPak and Shooger. I’ll present an overview of the “space” and discuss some broad trends. ValPak and Shooger will discuss consumer behavior and what they’re seeing in the market with the move to mobile. They’ll also discuss small business advertiser attitudes and issues.

ValPak is a veteran of the local-SMB couponing/direct mail space. Shooger launched as an iPhone app but also operates an SMS platform for ongoing loyalty marketing.

Should be a great session. And it’s free. Register here.

Coupons.com Powering DuaneReade Deals

January 19, 2010

In a move that is being replicated across retailers, Coupons.com is hosting a digital coupons section of the DuaneReade website. Other retailers that Coupons.com works with in the same way include CVS, Kmart, Safeway and Walgreens — with more to roll out this year. ShopLocal does this for weekly circular info and in mobile in some cases.

There’s no sign that coupons are slowing down; quite the opposite in fact. Here’s lots of juicy data from TNS about FSI coupons in 2009.

Sign up for our free coupons webinar on Feb 3.

Mobile Coupons Webinar on Feb. 3

January 16, 2010

Coupons are very hot and the mobile coupon segment is heating up too. There are already 120 apps in the iPhone app store that respond to the query “coupons.” My Internet2Go program is doing a free mobile coupons webinar on Februrary 3 at 1 Eastern/10 Pacific. Everyone in the local segment needs to understand and have a position on coupons and offers.

Here’s the session description:

Digital coupons are very hot right now, and mobile will be an increasingly important distribution channel for local offers and deals. In fact it’s one of the few types of advertising that mobile consumers welcome in large numbers.

Though not yet mainstream, “mobile coupons” is an already crowded arena. Execution, content, and quality matter in this highly competitive segment. This webcast will provide an overview of the landscape as well as concrete data and case studies on the performance of coupons in a mobile environment.

Our first confirmed speaker is Shooger, which is doing a range of really interesting things in mobile (app, SMS) and soon online. 

The session is free. You can register here

RetailMeNot Nov. Coupon Data

December 15, 2009

This is from their now monthly report (.pdf):

I would submit that every product “search” and most franchise businesses are seeing consumers look for deals, discounts or coupons. It’s just routine at this point — especially for online purchases.

Social: Not That Hard to Figure Out

December 13, 2009

Recent comScore data points out that social media are having an increasing influence on shopping and consumer purchase behavior:

Social media (a descriptive yet still ambiguous term) is often treated like it’s a mysterious thing. It’s not. You have several major distribution points online where people are interacting — among them Facebook and Twitter. Reviews and recommendations (word of mouth) are being disseminated in many cases through these distribution points. People are getting the information and taking action accordingly. Twitter for example has become an important distribution point for deals and coupons.

People fundamentally want credible information about products (and services) — rather than ads and claims — and they want to save money. Consumers are finding this information on social media sites, among other places online. Makes sense.

Companies lag in figuring out how to utilize these tools and platforms effectively and w/o the BS/PR spin they’re used to conveying in the world. That’s the major “cultural” obstacle for them. They mostly don’t know how to operate in the world with authentic, direct communication, which is what the Internet now demands for success in social media.

But if you’re a company that just can’t overcome the caution inherent in most corporate cultures, and you don’t want to be “authentic,”  you can always offer deals and discounts on Twitter as an alternative.

Online Coupon Forecast: $12.7B in 2010

December 11, 2009

There’s a new Borrell Associates report that takes aim at the coupon and circulars segment. The firm says that online coupons constitute 5% of all coupon redemptions but 20% of the total dollar value of coupons.

The total face value of the coupon market (not redemptions) on an annualized basis is more than $300 billion in the US.

The Borrell numbers are very large but here they are (via MediaPost):

Borrell Associates estimates that the $8.3 billion value of online coupons redemptions in 2009 (including via the Internet, email and mobile) will jump more than 50% to $12.7 billion in 2010 and to $22 billion by 2014.

The above chart appears in the MediaPost piece. However, there’s something strange about the traffic numbers. Here’s comparison data from Compete:

Freed of their prior stigma, coupons have now entered a new phase of life online and in mobile. Coupons have been shown to have the most direct influence on consumer shopping behavior. According to Retrevo: “20% won’t buy a gadget this holiday season, without a deal or coupon. 35% say a deal or coupon can help them buy a gadget the otherwise would not buy.”

Similarly the following comes from a RetailMeNot/Harris survey (8/09, n=2,175 US adults), showing how the absence of an expected deal or coupon affects behavior:

Mobile coupons are one of the forms of mobile advertising that consumers actively embrace:

Source: AOL-Universal McCann (n=1,800 smartphone users).

Traditional printed coupons see redemption rates of 1% to 2%, while online coupons see 10% to 15% and mobile often in excess of 20%.

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Related: More on coupons from the LATimes:

Coupon use peaked in 1992 with 7.9 billion coupons redeemed, according to Inmar Inc., a coupon processing firm. The practice has declined steadily since to 2.6 billion coupons redeemed in 2006, where it remained until late last year.

When 2009 comes to an end, the firm projects coupon redemptions will have gained 20% to 3.2 billion and remain strong even as the nation emerges from the recession.

Today, newspaper circulars still dominate, accounting for about 90% of the coupons distributed and more than half of those redeemed, but the Internet is rapidly making inroads.

NY-Based 8Coupons Goes National

December 9, 2009

The coupon site that could, 8Coupons, is going national. The site began trying to sell SMBs in New York into mobile couponing directly. Yikes.

The founders quickly discovered that was too much heavy lifting and so shifted into a PC to mobile couponing approach that focused on the top 8 deals (“Ocho Loco“) in the market. The company started allowing users to post deals, which they did, rather than relying on direct sales to merchants exclusively. (There’s also merchant self-service.)

These top 8 deals reportedly see a 22% redemption rate according to CEO Landy Ung.  She also told me previously that that were seeing NY area merchants sometimes posting coupons and linking back to MerchantCircle pages where those coupons were originally created.  

The new “Ocho Loco” model became quite successful and so now the site is expanding nationally. It’s going to work with partners to aggregate and distribute their content. The press release explains the new details further:

Location Based:  When a user visits 8coupons.com, the map on the homepage will automatically populate the Top 8 most popular deals based on his or her IP address. This ensures that anyone who visits the site will see the deals that are most relevant to them specifically.  The Top 8 deals will change dynamically as the user moves the map around to different locations, zooms in on a specific street, or narrows down the deals by sub-categories such as restaurants, entertainment, beauty & spas, services and shopping.

More Deals:  The deals on 8coupons.com now come from several different sources. 

  • Exclusive Mobile Coupons – Since launching in 2007, 8coupons.com has offered a self-service mobile coupon platform for small-businesses in New York City. The platform is now available nationwide, and to celebrate, 8coupons is offering an opportunity for any business to try the service free for 100 days (an $888 value!).  Businesses can sign up here and use the promo code “MobileCoupons” at checkout to receive a credit of $888. 
  • User Submitted Deals – Consumers can use this form to tell everyone about the specials at their local bar or their local sandwich shop (or accountant, or dentist, etc…). To date, there have been over 100,000 user shared deals on 8coupons.com.
  • Sponsored listings – 8coupons.com has partnered with Valpak, Money Mailer, and RedPlum’s SuperCoups as well as with several local bloggers and content partners to add over 50,000 local deals across the country. 

Coupons, wither mobile or online only, are extremely popular and successful as a marketing tool with consumers. It’s also one of the few forms of mobile advertising that consumers are highly receptive to.

Favorite Places: SMBs, Local & Mobile

December 7, 2009

Google is using a range of strategies to engage local, small businesses and get them to claim and update their information through the Local Business Center (LBC). In a provocative new effort, Google has identified 100,000 “Favorite Places” based on “how many times Google users looked for more information about those businesses.” Right now this is US only but Google intends to expand the program to other geographies over time.

As a key part of the overall effort and promotion, Google has sent out physical window decals to these 100,000 businesses for them to display in their windows (bet that they will). Similar to many of the familiar “best of” or “winner of” stickers that one sees in local restaurant windows, these decals contain something extra: a QR barcode that links the physical sticker to the mobile version of the Place Page on Google associated with that business.

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The rest of this post is at Search Engine Land.  And here’s more from the Google Blog

Groupon Raises a Whopping $30M

December 2, 2009

Local deals and coupon (er, “social commerce”) purveyor Groupon announced that it had raised $30 million:

Groupon, the social commerce service that has saved consumers in cities across America more than $36 million since its launch 12 months ago, has raised a $30 million round of capital led by Accel Partners with participation from Groupon’s initial investor, New Enterprise Associates. The financing will be used to accelerate Groupon’s customer acquisition, expand into new geographies and further develop its technology.

Groupon leverages group buying and social media to provide its millions of customers big discounts on the best local businesses in major cities such as Chicago, Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. To date, customers have purchased over 800,000 Groupons on deals ranging from spa treatments and golf outings to fine dining and skydiving.

Daily deals are delivered via email. I get them and mostly just delete because of lack of relevance (to my interests and lifestyle). Obviously, however, people love deals and email marketing remains quite effective. Daily Candy, a similar city-specific daily email newsletter, was sold last year for $125 million to Comcast.

Separately Coupons.com reported — it offers mostly grocery coupons with some fast food — the top coupon categories of 2009:

2009 Top Coupon Categories

  1. Ready-to-Eat Cereal
  2. Yogurt
  3. Sweet Snacks
  4. Refrigerated Dough
  5. Salty Snacks
  6. QSR/Casual Dining
  7. Nutritional Snacks
  8. Entertainment
  9. Condiments
  10. Pizza

My favorite categories on this list: Refrigerated Dough and Salty Snacks.

Google’s Local (Mobile) Coupon Move

November 23, 2009

Google’s going to include coupons in mobile distribution of local business information on Place Pages. I’ve written up the announcement on Internet2Go:

Google has had a big opportunity in local coupons that it has largely neglected perhaps until now. But now Google is making a push into mobile distribution of local coupons for small businesses.

According to the Google LatLong blog, when local businesses create coupons through the Google Local Business Center those offers will be shown automatically on Place Pages for local businesses accessed via mobile devices (smartphones). Accordingly, just like paid-search ads, mobile coupon distribution is an opt-out according to the FAQs on the site . . .

Google could have “owned” the online coupon space but it has failed to be very aggressive in this area for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, although there’s no revenue that flows as a result of coupon creation by local businesses.

Now, recognizing that mobile users are interested in deals, Google is doing mobile distribution of local business coupons. It has to get the businesses to create them in the first place (still something of a challenge) but the PC-mobile distribution will surely raise the profile of coupons at Google.

And consumers are very clearly interested in mobile offers. Here’s data from a recent Compete survey of 970 US smartphone users (but there’s much more like this), which reflects their interest in offers or coupons on the go:

Coupons.com and RetailMeNot in Reciprocal Deal

November 12, 2009

Coupons.com and RetailMeNot have announced that they’re going to be distributing the other’s coupons in an exclusive reciprocal deal. The press release, which goes out later this morning says:

Shoppers visiting Coupons.com can now browse and use RetailMeNot.com’s 400,000 online coupon codes that, when entered as prompted during online purchases on participating sites, provide discounts or free shipping on their purchases. In addition, U.S. visitors to RetailMeNot.com can print and redeem hundreds of coupons offered monthly by Coupons.com.

Here are the screens: a “Grocery Coupon” tab on RetailMeNot and “Coupon Codes” tab on Coupons.com house the reciprocal offers.

Picture 16

Picture 14

Study after study reinforce the consumer-user appeal of deals and coupons. There’s also an increasing amount of activity in the segment.

Recently search engine Ask made a big push into “deals” and TheFind has improved and enhanced its deals and coupons search capabilities. This holiday season price and discounting will be a bigger factor than ever in consumer purchase behavior.

Missed the Mobile Marketing Summit?

October 29, 2009

Picture 23If you missed yesterday’s most excellent (and totally free) Mobile Marketing Summit and you’d like to watch/hear any of the presentations, you can do so at our webinar archive. There was a ton of great discussion about:

  • Mobile apps and app strategy (best practices)
  • How much it costs to develop mobile apps and who should not develop one
  • Mobile loyalty and couponing (opportunities and challenges)
  • Connecting traditional media and mobile
  • Using SMS to measure traditional media performance
  • Using SMS to build customer opt-in lists with over 90% response to subsequent offers
  • Effectiveness of mobile ad campaigns in general vs. onilne
  • Lots of stats on consumer behavior (search, mobile Internet, smartphones) and the size of the market

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The sessions were “chock a block” full of case studies and practical information.

Live Now: Mobile Couponing & Loyalty

October 28, 2009

Picture 24We’re live now: Mobile Marketing, Couponing, and Customer Loyalty

Featuring:

  • Tetherball360
  • SmartReply

Real case studies, practical and tactical advice for marketers trying to drive customer loyalty, with mobile couponing as an integral part of that strategy.

Please come if  you’re interested. Click here to attend.


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