Tag Archives: coupons

Groupon Gets $135 Million Investment, Plans International Push

Groupon has added $135 million to its war-chest, and now has raised a total of $165 million to fend off competitors in the deal-a-day space it has pioneered. The investment gives Groupon a valuation in excess of $1 billion.

The company, which makes its revenue by keeping 35-50 percent of the face value of its “Groupon” coupons, was founded in November 2008. It is currently in 50 North American cities and plans to be in 100 cities by the end of 2010. It is said to have earned in excess of $350 million last year.

The investment comes from DST, the Russian company that recently committed to investing up to $180 million in Yelp; and from Battery Ventures. A press release says that a portion of the investment will be used to fuel Groupon’s global investment. The rest will “facilitate liquidity for employees and early investors.”

“This investment underscores our view that social networking and community based activity will drive, shape and define the web’s evolution in the years ahead,” said DST CEO Yuri Milner.

‘Daily Deals’ Galore: Dueling San Diego Media Take on Groupon

The San Diego Union Tribune and the upstart San Diego News Network are launching competing “Daily Deal” products, with Facebook and Twitter accompaniments, and will try to eat into the lead in the local market that has been assumed by Groupon (and Living Social and many others).

The SDUT launches its Groupon-like “Sign on San Diego Daily Deal” tonight at midnight with a special offer to get $50 worth of grub at Acqua Al 2, a chic Italian eatery, for $25 (and actually, just $15 if customers use their $10 deal bucks for signing up or referring a friend). Under rules of the promotion, 50 people need to sign up for it within a 24 hour period. Six people signed up for the deal within the first hour.

The SDUT’s Daily Deal sits on a platform provided by Click-N-Shout, a Cleveland-based company – one of apparently 155 rivals, per Groupon — that is testing the waters for newspapers with the SDUT. The newspaper’s sales forces have been offering the Daily Deal as part of their portfolio for a few weeks, and there is roughly a month’s worth of inventory in the system now.

Site GM Mike Hodges notes that The Daily Deal is hardly entering virgin territory. Roughly eighty percent of its advertising prospects have been approached by Groupon or other Deal-a -Day services. But the newspaper believes it has many advantages over the competition, including the ability to promote The Daily Deal on the right hand corner of the cover of every print issue; and a database of 90,000 “special offer” email subscribers.

Hodges believes The Daily Deal will prove complementary to other special email offers that have long been provided by the newspaper, and notes that it is possible that many users will get a daily deal and special offer in the same day. Newspaper advertisers are being approached first.

Meanwhile, The San Diego News Network, the flagship of the fledging U.S. Local News Network hyperlocal network chain, is launching its own, similarly titled “Daily Deal” next Monday, April 12. Built to custom specs by Deal Current, a local San Diego software company run by Jimmy Hendricks, the site has sold out its first month of inventory with local companies such as Hairspray salon, Vagabond Kitchen, Extreme Pizza, The Comedy Store, Cookies by Design, Cupcake Love and All American Grill.

Company President Chris Jennewein says he believes that “very competitive” pricing – presumably more favorable than the 35 percent-50 percent of coupon value assessed by Groupon – will make a difference. It is also important “to have a sales executive from a local company that you can trust rather than a telemarketer,” he says.

Group-Based ‘Deals of the Day’ Sites: 55 (and Counting)

Groupon has a roaring head start in the deals of the day category for groups, with over a million users. We’ll hear all about Groupon from CEO Andrew Mason at next week’s Marketplaces conference in San Diego, where he is keynoting. But there are now countless imitators adding their own deals.

New York-based 8Coupons.com, which aggregates coupons from content partners such as Valpak, Money Mailer and RedPlum’s SuperCoups, has now put them all together in one spot (Great idea). 8Coupons launched the top 10 U.S. cities last month, and now has 55 different Group Buying “Deals of the Day” websites in 100 cities. Based on what we are hearing around the industry, many more sites are likely to enter the space soon.

Living Social Raises $30 Million; Goes Head-to-Head with Groupon

The “Flash ecommerce” space got hotter today, as Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial announced a new $30 million round led by U.S.Venture Partners. Grotech Ventures and Revolution (Steve Case’s company) are also participating.

The fund will be used to launch deal-a-day coupon sites in Chicago, Denver/Boulder, Raleigh Durham and San Diego. These cities are actually live today, along with Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, Mineeaspolis-St. Paul, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

Living Social got its start with Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, and has launched some additional applications since then (i.e. “Find a Happy Hour,’ “Pick Your Five”). The company appears mostly focused, however, on the hot Deal a Day space, where it competes with Groupon, which has raised a total of $34.7 Million, as well as a host of similarly themed providers (and many more on the way).

Last August, CEO and co-founder Tim O’Shaughnessy told us that he sees the Living Social Deals as “a huge opportunity” to market to customers based on their pronounced online preferences,” and to take those preferences offline.

Local Mobile Coupons: Analog Analytics Pushes Publisher Solution

Coupons are hot in a down economy, and printable online coupons –and even mobile coupons –are gaining share in the coupons business. But local SMBs aren’t always in on the game, as coupon sites frequently gravitate towards one stop national accounts.

Now, Analog Analytics, a San Diego based vendor, is pushing a clever mobile solution that allows online local publishers to feature display ads that have SMS promotion codes built in. Consumers show the coupon on their phones to retailers for conversion.

Use of the mobile coupon provides complete analytics (impressions, click-thru rates, texts, email and conversions). Among the 850 publishers currently working with the solution are Media News Group, Village Voice Media, Local.com, Wick Communications, Freedom Interactive and The San Diego Reader. More than 25,000 ads are being supported, and the company has just expanded beyond the U.S. with a new Australian operation. Chinese operations are currently being eyed.

Company founder Ken Kalb, a longtime search vet, says the mobile coupon solution is the natural successor to low click display campaigns. The engagement of a local promotion typically boosts click-thru rates by two-to-10 percent – 10 times higher than national online ads. Revenues might see a 20-30 percent boost within six weeks of launching.

Kalb notes that the coupons are sold via local sales forces, or alternatively, via a self serve platform. Affiliate marketing programs from other online coupon companies just aren’t a good alternative, he says. They typically pay just three cents per click. They also don’t offer much support for local advertisers in terms of analytics or upsells.

In fact, Analog’s self-serve platform also offers an upsell gift certificate program, which brings in immediate revenue for advertiser and publisher alike; as well as the “Bigger, Better Deal,” a daily promotion special. It also encourages frequent updating of ad copy and promotions. The platform also enables the development of opt-in marketing lists.

Is it too soon for mobile coupons on a mass media basis? It might be. As a backup, Analog Analytics does support print-out options. But this solution is an interesting one that might bring a source of renewed interest for local media companies. They continue to bring in more eyeballs than other media on their websites, but often have a hard time proving their value.

Analog Analytics CEO Ken Kalb is a featured speaker at Marketplaces 2010. He’s on the “Back to Square One: Refocus on Revenues” panel with Adicio CRO Tony Lee and Matchbin CEO Reed Brown.

Group Coupon Sites Abound

In addition to Living Social, which has just launched a local coupon effort, we’ve learned of three other group coupon sites: Groupon, whose tagline is “collective buying power;” Boston-based BuyWithMe,whose tag is “Let’s Get It, Together”; and What’s the Deal DC.

Groupon, the pioneer, is a 40 staffer, Chicago-based site launched by The Point, a company dedicated to collective activities, such as political fundraising. Its Chicago site was launched in November. It is now available in 24 main cities and has 500,000 subscribers. The site has 50,000 subs in DC alone.

The way it works is that subscribers just click “BUY” before the offer ends at midnight. If the minimum number of people sign up, they get a printable gift certificate in their inbox that can be used whenever they get around to it. If not enough people join, charges aren’t processed.

What’s The Deal DC, meanwhile, has attracted 1,500 customers since its launch last month. Among other things, the five person operation works with food bloggers to offer deals on recommended restaurants, and also throws sponsored happy hours with bar clients.

Living Social Goes Local with Coupon Offers

Living Social, the Facebook breakout that includes Virtual Bookshelf and eight other verticals (music, movies, video games, television shows, restaurants, beer, slopes, iPhone apps), has gone local, hiring a sales rep in both New York and Washington D.C to sell special “Living Social Deals.” Additional large cities are envisioned in the near future.

The coupon offers are limited to one a day and expire at midnight. They go out to the portion of Living Social’s community of 35 million registered users that opt in, either via Facebook, Twitter or to the destination site.

CEO and co-founder Tim O’Shaughnessy told us that he sees the Living Social Deals as “a huge opportunity” to market to customers based on their pronounced online preferences,” and to take those preferences offline. “There are a lot of deals that people want to take part in,” he says. The coupon offers include payment processing.

In Washington, which serves as the company’s headquarters, the program has been live for a month. Offers to date have included a variety of services and products, including restaurant.com-like dining discounts (i.e. “Pay $10 for $35 worth of dining.”) It has also sold offers for a local chocolate shop, a cukcakery, DC United soccer games, and even a wine-making kit. Spas and hotels are eyed for future offers.

The DC launch was accompanied by an aggressive “Free this gorilla” promotion, in which the company promised to free a chained “gorilla” being driven around on a pedicab around the buzzing Georgetown and Dupont Circle areas once the city “saved” $1 million from offers. People could sign up to receive the e-mailed deals.

Happy hour promotions might be next, due to the company’s recent acquisition of Buy Your Friend a Drink, which now provides sponsored drinks in 275 bars across the U.S.