A New Mobile Coupon Standard: A New World for Marketers

Earlier this month in San Francisco, I was privileged to announce with the Mobile Marketing Association a new standard for mobile coupon ads. The Mobile Coupon Ad Unit Standards committee (MOCAUS) is an industry group dedicated to establishing standards and definitions to pioneer a new generation of mobile marketing. As co-chair, this initiative will link the top-of-funnel mobile media ad buys with point-of-sale transaction events, stimulating both.

I moderated a panel announcing the initiative at last week’s MMA forum in San Francisco, which included Merkle, the Association of Coupon Professionals, Forrester Research and Urban Airship.

Some fascinating data was discussed at this panel, including:

  • Over 300 billion coupons per year are issued in the United States alone.
  • If every possible coupon were redeemed, it would cost U.S. companies $500 billion.
  • Only 1 out of 100 coupons in Free Standing Inserts or “FSI”‘s are redeemed.
  • Once redeemed, most paper coupons are shipped offshore in big boxes to be entered manually for settlement and auditing purposes.

In short, paper coupons are a massive industry that works, but is highly ineffective.  However, everyone universally agreed that mobile was poised to revolutionize the world of coupons. Chris Wayman of Merkle pointed out that yesterday’s coupons are today’s digital offers. Wayman cited a study that showed when consumers are offered discounts; they usually spend more in a retail store. However, he notes, in order to make this work, you need to match the right offer to the right consumer. For example, offer Dad cheerleading pom poms or Grandma a pair of Seven jeans, and chances are you’ll never get them into the store in the first place.  According to Wayman, you need to match the offer to the person’s interests and their relationship with the brand.

I agree with Chris. My view is that you’ll get a good response if you market to demographics, a better response if you market to behaviors, and the best response if you market to interests.  A key way mobile can help is to leverage gamification to enable consumers to provide their interests in an easy, fun and safe way.

For example, FunMobility is working on a mobile app for a major retailer, where the consumer is given points every time they fill out a survey, register with Facebook, watch a video or open a promotional message. Each action provides us insight into the consumer’s interests. These points can be redeemed for prizes, the retailer’s loyalty points, or store coupons, which we match to their interests.

One of the key takeaways from last week’s conference is that the consumer is in control, and you need to make the experience center around his or her interests in permission-centric fashion.  Unwanted or meaningless messages may hurt the brand more than help. Whereas, engaging offers, news and promotions tied to the consumers interests can yield stunning results.

TicketMaster cited a case study, in which they generated $500,000 in ticket sales from just 200,000 mobile pushes. To achieve the same response, TicketMaster would have needed 110 million social media impressions.  Mobile enables highly targeted, actionable offers providing consumers amazing opportunities and offering new monetization opportunities for marketers.

How does this relate to MOCAUS? We have a roster of industry leaders: FunMobility, Isis, Acta Wireless, Inmar, Velti, Spotzot, Mocapay, Sprint, Univision, HipCricket.  Our goal is to create an ad unit format for mobile, definitions, and measurement standards for mobile coupon impressions, click throughs, clip events and redemption.  We’re planning field trials in the near future to bring this exciting standard to market.

This important initiative will enable marketers and agencies to standardize the ways they offer incentives on mobile, and measure their effectiveness.  Jon Morgan of the Association of Coupon Professionals discussed how important coupons are for manufacturers, retailers and consumers.  It’s unusual that you find a form of promotion that works so well for all three. But coupons do, and we’re excited to be a part of it.


Follow this blog

Get a daily email of all new posts.

Email address