Couponing has grown tremendously since the days of Sunday newspaper circulars. While those who use coupons avidly (see TV show Extreme Couponing) still rely heavily on free-standing inserts, or FSIs, the number of shoppers obtaining their discounts digitally is growing. In fact, mobile phone coupon usage topped 5 billion in 2012, and is expected to have more than doubled in 2014 (Emarketer via HuffPost).
Smartphones have introduced a new concept of “incentivized couponing” through apps like Ibotta, Checkout51 and Shopkick. These apps add a new layer to the coupon process, where users are encouraged to engage with the brand in order to receive a reward. These engagement-oriented tactics can also be seen on social media, where brands attempt to increase loyalty through “locked” and “unlocked” offers. Consumers are enticed to receive a greater offer value by performing an action, such as becoming a fan on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or watching a video. By completing an action, an offer will be unlocked for the consumer.
In addition to these apps, big-name stores like Target, CVS and Walgreens have launched their own successful mobile coupon platforms. Even the digital discount sites such as Coupons.com have created apps, taking their digital FSI offering one step further.
Programmatic has evolved into traditional channels like TV, radio and print. Through the News America programmatic advertising offering, the company is combining its audience of 200 million shoppers with OwnerIQ’s real time data to create programmatic couponing campaigns. This new platform revolves around location-based geo-targeting by finding the “optimal geography” based on store locations, demographics, sales data and many other sources in order to reach the targeted audience with the appropriate discounts.
Couponing has become complex over the years; gone are the days of simply choosing an offer value and waiting for the redemption reports to come in from the clearinghouse. Not only do brands decide between various methods and channels which involve vendor cost structures and fees to analyze, but prints and often redemptions are reported in close to real-time. Brands are expected to monitor performance, optimize and reallocate toward the strongest coupons on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. In 2015, managing a brand’s digital couponing efforts can be a full time job.
As more information regarding News America’s programmatic platform becomes known, this offering has the potential to not only make couponing strategies more intelligent, but also more streamlined for marketers. Programmatic buying has positively impacted other media channels, and we hope to see the same efficiency and impact on digital couponing.