I just wrote a post at SEL about the hiring of former Yahoo! Exec. Brad Garlinghouse as head of communications platforms for AOL. As I was writing it I was trying to think about where the opportunities reside for AOL as it tries to reverse course. Local is one area and so is mobile. There are also vertical opportunities. But coupons and savings is one that came to mind as well.
One of the most interesting but little known offerings that AOL developed is Shortcuts. I’ve written about it several times in the past but haven’t heard anything lately. It links online coupons (grocery at the moment) to existing store loyalty cards:
Consumers select coupons that they add to their accounts and those discounts are automatically taken when the card is swiped at the register; nobody presents any paper. (Card numbers are added to accounts to link them.) When I originally spoke to AOL a few years ago about this there was discussion about broadening beyond grocery/CPG to other categories. I don’t know if that’s still on the roadmap.
What’s really interesting here is that you get a complete closed loop: online to offline. It also presents email and online marketing opportunities to consumers based on redemption history (maybe mobile too). There’s also huge consumer loyalty to a site like this.
AOL has an opportunity here (among other areas) to create a pretty compelling destination for consumers around deals and coupons. Yahoo! is doing something very interesting and much broader with Deals but it offer the loyalty card integration.