Mobile Couponing May Soon Catch ‘Fire’

Mobile coupon company Cellfire has been around since June but “officially” launched at the recent CTIA wireless show in LA and simultaneously announced a deal with Cingular (soon to be AT&T). In the absence of pre-loaded space on the carrier deck, consumers download the application to their phones, get coupons and present them to cashiers for redemption (there are some infrastructure issues there).Cellfire has direct relationships with a range of both national and local merchants, with local stores or other local distribution. To date, the company has raised more than $10 in VC funding and so has the ability to wait (awhile) for the mobile coupon market to develop. And develop I believe it will.

Whether you call it “coupons,” “discounts” or “deals,” this segment is heating up online, with ValPak striking recent distribution relationships with Google and Judysbook, and Google adding local coupon distribution to Maps (for both consumers and advertisers). For some time, IAC has owned EPI (Entertainment) and has integrated it into Citysearch local results (will Ask be next?). Indeed, in one form or another, many other companies are now involved with local couponing or deals and it will get only more crowded going forward.

But mobile is a natural fit for coupons.

Directory assistance-coupon hybrid 1-800-411-Save is also in the segment; and how long will it be before Google distributes coupons on Maps to mobile devices? Indeed, most mobile applications will ultimately have similar discount offers. Here the differentiator will be who’s got the most comprehensive coverage combined with the best user experience (Web + phone too).

Coupons also have the advantage of connecting the “digital” and real worlds for tracking purposes. This is especially meaningful for local businesses.

One of the questions surrounding mobile marketing is: what types of advertising will be accepted by and effective with consumers? That’s a longer discussion but there’s no question that coupons/deals will resonate. Consumers will clearly opt-in to receive discounts at local stores or national chains with local stores.

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Related: CNET writes a kind of mobile search primer tied to CTIA. And MediaPost (reg. req’d) describes the results of a survey presented at CTIA that reflects most wireless executives believe that mobile TV is at least three years away in terms of widespread adoption.

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2 Responses to “Mobile Couponing May Soon Catch ‘Fire’”

  1. Jingle Debuts SMS Ads « Screenwerk Says:

    […] This is essentially mobile couponing (via text). Cellfire and others are seeking to exploit coupons in a mobile environment. In the UK, Miva and InfoNXX’s 118118 directory assistance service have had success with a similar program. […]

  2. Local Couponer ZiXXo ‘Stays the Course’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] Mobile is an entire new frontier for coupons . . . […]

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