Empyr’s Goal: Become the Face of ‘Online to Offline’

We hear a lot about Online to Offline (O2O) — online ads and promotions directly attributable to offline sales. Card linked offers, buy buttons and loyalty programs are all part of O2O, which has already gotten traction in China, where research by McKinsey shows that 71 percent of consumers have used an O2O app.

In the US, O2O is just getting started, building on interest in payment-related promotions spurred by Apple Pay and other initiatives. At this point, several O2O platforms have emerged, including Cardlytics, Linkable Networks, Affinity Solutions, Edo Interactive, Spring Rewards and Thanks Again. Another player is Empyr (owned by Mogl).

Speaking at Money2020 in Las Vegas in October, CEO Jon Carder made his ambitious agenda clear: to become the dotcom “verb company” for O2O. “There is no Online to Offline equivalent of Twitter for SMS; Google for search or Facebook for social,” he declared.

At Money2020, Carder said that O2O’s success in the U.S. will come from providing consumers real time offers from the best brands; complete analytics providing marketing insight; universal redemption capabilities for the leading credit card associations; and an ability to give them a seamless, fun and even meaningful experience.

Fun and meaningful experiences are things that Mogl seeks to provide via cash jackpots for the most frequent buyers, and charity donations funded from part of the proceeds. Its cause-related marketing efforts have won it testimonials from celebrities like Virgin’s Richard Branson, a mentor of Carder’s; and Hall of Fame golfer and fellow San Diegan Phil Mickelson.

The service has also stepped out front by allowing merchants to provide on the fly, time-of-day based promotions. A restaurant, for instance, can decide at the last minute to offer 20 percent cash back for diners coming in before 6pm.

Early results have come in from various brands that have teamed up with Mogl. According to a Visa study that tracked Mogl members over a two year period, Mogl promotions have generally boosted business by around 20 percent. Some affiliates are seeing even higher returns. Certain Jack in the Box locations, for instance, are seeing a 33.2 percent boost in daily spend, and a 33 percent boost in transaction frequency.

The big question, however, is whether these services can scale. In order to boost the number of merchants and consumers using the service, Mogl has launched Empyr, which enables other publishers to use its API not only for restaurants and fast food establishments, but for a wide swath of categories. Empyr will generally take a 20 percent cut of revenue from affiliates, leaving the bulk of the money for publishers and merchant acquirers.

One company that has jumped on the Empyr bandwagon is Living Social, which is using the company’s platform and local partners to launch its Restaurants Plus loyalty program in Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Another announced partner is Virgin America.

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Empyr/Mogl CEO Jon Carder

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