Even though online coupons have been around for years, there’s really still no leader in the segment — quite mysteriously. Also the overwhelming majority of coupons are still clipped from physical newspapers and direct mail envelopes, such as ValPak’s blue envelope. But one gets the sense that the stars have finally aligned and online (and later some version of mobile) coupons will start to take off.
To that end, I previously forecast that the total face value of online coupons will be just over $16 billion in 2010 and the redeemed value of those coupons will be about $2.4 billion. (That may be too aggressive, but we’ll see; it depends on distribution and consumer awareness.)
EPI, publisher of “The Entertainment Book,” which is owned by IAC, has done very little online. While it’s a recognized “brand” and couponer offline it has not made a splash on the Internet. But as others sites are increasingly pushing deals and coupons online (Judy’s Book and Dealio to name only two), Entertainment is going to start distributing coupons through Ask’s AskCity, also owned by IAC.
From the release:
When people search on AskCity (http://city.ask.com) for business listings that offer Entertainment coupons, they can review offers and print coupons with a free 14-day no-obligation trial of the Entertainment book service. With the trial, consumers now have full access to the entire Entertainment book coupon database including discounts for everything from dining and shopping, to travel and entertainment across the country. For example, people who search AskCity for “LensCrafters” in San Francisco will see a coupon for $75 off all eyeglasses.
The release also says that 150,000 Entertainment coupons will be distributed via AskCity. Here are some examples from the Ask blog.
ValPak has been doing distribution deals for its advertisers with a number of parties, including Google in a much publicized partnership. Google, for its part, has a coupon creation tool for local businesses. I’m not sure how widely used it is. I have not seen any listings or links to coupons on Google Maps for some time so I’m not sure whether anything is going on there now. Yahoo also offers coupons. And AOL has a very interesting online-offline coupon and loyalty card initiative ShortCuts. Of course ShopLocal promotes local coupons and deals via its relationships with newspaper publishers.
I strongly believe, given the consumer affinity for coupons, deals and discounts, there is an opportunity to create a branded consumer destination or destinations plural where consumers go to check on deals before they buy. Coupon/deals syndication will also be a critical part of the picture, which is what the Entertainment deal with Ask is of course.
What’s also interesting is that the distribution mechanism is Ask and not through Citysearch (which does have coupons [scroll for example]). It’s a relatively reliable prediction that Ask SmartAnswers (top) will start to show coupons in the not-too-distant future, which would offer even wider distribution.
This is a big deal for Entertainment, which counts approximately 60,000 local businesses among its advertisers. It’s also an opportunity for the innovative AskCity to further stand out in the local space.