Tag Archives: deal a day

Gannett’s ‘Deal Chicken’ Goes it Alone in Arizona

The deal a day model thrives on the power of its email list, sales channels, promotion, clever copywriting and vendor selection. Newspapers and TV stations should be especially well positioned to leverage these strengths, right? Many, in fact, are diving in to deal a day via partner relationships with Groupon and LivingSocial, or vendor relationships with the likes of Deal Current, Analog Analytics, Shoutback, Matchbin, Nimble Commerce and Offer Foundry.

Going it alone, however, is Gannett’s Republic Media, the holding company of The Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com and 28 other media and vertical sites. Republic’s Deal Chicken has been since Sept. 1, and already has 30,000 emails and 2,268 “likes” on Facebook. It ought to be able to double its email count by the end of the year, says VP of Digital Media Mike Coleman.

The Deal Chicken motif brings with it lots of branding possibilities for social media and daily emails (and has been cleverly executed.) “The Deal Chicken Knows No End” is the tagline. Some of the Facebook posts say things like “The Deal Chicken especially likes Prix Fixe Meals.”

All the writing is done on a freelance basis by contractors, rather than by more expensive newspaper staff. Unlike some of the other deal a day sites, the writers also personally interview merchants and provide feedback when deals are completed. They also receive a cut of the revenue.

“The brand is light and fun on purpose,” adds Coleman. “And we thought it was extremely important to come up with a very memorable brand, especially in light of the many, many similar sites competing for consumer attention. We don’t think ‘PhoenixDeals.com’ would cut through the clutter.”

Coleman said the company looked at its deal a day options, and thought it had plenty of internal resources and didn’t need to give away 5-10 percent of its earnings to a vendor. It also didn’t need to form a partnership with a major deal a day site. In the end, vendors and/or partners will inevitably squeeze tighter, he says.

As a standalone site, Deal Chicken can also establish its own pricing, which has been ambitiously set at 50 percent of the deal price, minus 2.25 percent for processing. That’s definitely at the high end of the deal a day range, which is typically 30-50 percent. But still, it is a relative bargain compared to other local media offerings. Rapid payment is also promised: 30 percent within five days, and the remaining 70 percent within 30 days.

Ultimately, Republic’s independent position is a brave one. Other newspaper companies have settled on partners to ensure that deal a day didn’t get in the lost in the shuffle of day to day operations, or sometimes, in acknowledgment that leading deal a day companies have successfully established a local beachhead.

But Coleman says that when you get past the credit card processing, daily deals are actually among the simplest of the 30 products the company produces. Republic is also ideally poised to push every button it has to make deal a day a success, he notes.

In addition to newspaper and website promotion, Deal Chicken is being promoted for five to ten seconds on the noon news show of KPNX-TV, the local Gannett NBC affiliate. The needle moves a lot after every on-air mention, he says.

HomeRun Shows What-and-When You Bought on its ‘Daily Steals’

With 200+ deal a day sites and vendors, the only way to carve out a niche is to find dramatically different takes on group buying (i.e. focusing on verticals or integrating with other content). How about making your buys visible to your entire social network, and going deeper on the game mechanisms?

That’s the approach being taken by HomeRun, a 25 person San Francisco startup launched by AdRoll co-founder Jared Kopf, which recently recruited former Intuit and GoDaddy Exec Bob Olson as SVP of Sales Using HomeRun, which launched in October 2009, members of your social network can see what you bought and when you bought it.

The site was financed in part by Catalyst Media’s John Durham for an amount that Kopf says would make it #4 in deal a day raises, following Groupon, Living Social and BuyWithMe, which has raised $21.5 million. It currently serves seven cities, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC and San Diego. It also has a limited presence in 19 additional markets. In its core markets, the site has a mixture of feet on the street and telemarketing.

Kopf, a social vet via an early tenure with Slide, says the transparency will add depth to user profiles, and also provide participating advertisers with a better market sense of what worked.”It is a friend graph in the same way that Facebook is,” he said. “This is true social buying.”

Like Facebook, users can decide the level of privacy they wish to invoke. For instance, they may want to make a restaurant deal public in hopes that their friends will join them; while keeping offline any buys of retail goods or elective medical treatments.

In addition to public viewing of acquired “Daily Steals,” HomeRun seeks to differentiate via “Avalanches,” which trigger progressively reduced prices for all bidders when certain thresholds are reached; and The Private Reserve, an affinity type program for top point earners, such as special VIP tours that cannot be purchased. Says that Private Reserve offers “early access and preferred access to what a city has to offer.”

Another program, Beginner’s Luck, is described as a welcome wagon type program that provide free or discounted offers for new members, such as a free Latte or hot cocoa. The deals don’t require any buying thresholds.

OpenTable Launches Group Buying Deals (Updated)

Restaurants are among the top categories for group buying deals. Now OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service, is getting in on the game. On its blog today, OpenTable announced that it is launching a weekly “Spotlight” offer that provides diners with $50 of dining for $25 at a featured restaurant, which must be an OpenTable customer.

The revenue is being split with restaurants, and represents OpenTable’s first transaction product with consumers.OpenTable says it will feature a wide range of restaurants, both casual and formal.

Most dining parties will probably end up spending more than the offers, since typical OpenTable customers spend $50 a head and bring 2-3 people to dinner. Yelp has also been experimenting with group buying under the “Yelp Eats” and “Yelp Drinks” monikers.

Spotlight launches first in New York and Boston, with the weekly offers available beginning on Thursdays at 5pm. Other U.S. cities will follow in short order. In its first day, 1100 New York offers have been sold, and 700 Boston offers. The infrastructure for the offers is being provided by IMShopping’s Nimble Commerce.

OpenTable intends to juice demand for the coupons by dropping “get a clue” hints as to the restaurant’s ID prior to the coupon going online – something that might spark additional page views.

Here are this week’s clues:

Boston Secret Spotlight Clue #1: The chef at this hotspot in Boston’s South End learned her culinary techniques from both Bobby Flay and Malaysian street food vendors. Share your best guess here!

New York Secret Spotlight Clue #2: Dine under Midtown’s starry sky, where they’ve mastered the art of infusing classical French technique with American cuisine. Share your best guess here!

Groupon Personalizes Deal a Day for User Interests

Groupon has been working to bust out of the limited inventory that seems inherent in its “deal a day” space. First, it added a “side” deal in many markets. Then it started breaking out some of the larger markets into urban and suburban areas –something that Living Social has pushed even harder on. Separately, it has started adding additional revenue via a banner ad, which its been selling for $10 CPM.

Now Groupon has announced a personalization program that allows users to designate the type of offers that they want to receive. By personalizing offers, instead of bombarding with multiple unrelated offers, Groupon hopes to preserve its excellent 66 percent open rate.

The program also enables Groupon advertisers to “stagger” offers over several months, instead of being limited to one offer every six or seven months. And finally, Groupon can begin targeting vertical interests that among users that go beyond the interests of its current base college-educated young women,. The personalization program is initially rolling out in Chicago, LA, New York, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.

Yipit, a deal a day aggregator, already personalizes offers, pinpointing interest among more than 100 deals a day. It enables users to choose subsets within macro categories such as Dining and Nightlife; Health and Beauty and Fitness. Within “fitness,” for instance, I could choose offers for Pilates, Yoga, Gym or Bootcamp. Maybe that’s how it will look with Groupon’s program.

Perry Evans on Closely: ‘The Social Graph’ is Overtaking E-Mail Marketing

Small businesses are gaining the ability to interact with customers anytime, as email marketing gives way to “the social graph,” says local marketing pioneer Perry Evans, who is introducing Closely Inc., a new firm dedicated to helping SMBs leverage the new opportunities in online and mobile marketing.

Like everyone else, Evans says he has watched the rise of Groupon and pondered what role daily deals have in the new marketing. His answer: they are great “training wheels to demonstrate to businesses how powerful social networking can be to stimulate demand.”

But more comprehensive solutions are really needed. “The daily deal model simply organizes an audience for a specific metro-area deal, campaign-style. We need a broader term than ‘daily deals,’ says Evans, offering up “live local social marketing” as a candidate. “This captures the real-time and socially engaged ways that marketing will shift into a key small business tool for demand stimulation.”

Closely is being designed specifically to meet these needs, adds Evans. Businesses should be able to create live deals anytime, when they most want/need demand. At the same time, Closely is building an engine for expanded offer distribution.

“Offers will get to consumers in variety of ways,” says Evans. “The industry has centered on a campaign email model; yet the user spends a ton of time on local and social websites, in search and on mobile devices. Getting offers published when businesses most want leads, and delivered through multiple channels is the best way to describe what we’re about.”

Ideal SMB customers for such a service are more local service oriented than product commerce oriented, he says. Product commerce granularity can be overwhelming, while offers from local merchants and service businesses seem to be welcomed right now by consumer. “This implies a meaningful opportunity for Yellow Pages as partners, alongside daily media, mobile and email distribution,” he adds.

Groupon, McClatchy Team for Daily Deals in 28 Markets

Groupon announced today that it will work with McClatchy, the third largest newspaper chain, in 28 McClatchy markets. The rollout begins this month in Sacramento and Kansas City. Other McClatchy markets will be added over the next several months, possibly including titles in Ft. Worth, Miami, Charlotte and Raleigh.

Like Living Social’s earlier deal with The Washington Post, the deal is based on McClatchy’s powerful local promotion capabilities. Groupon deals will be promoted throughout newspaper websites in contextually relevant sections (i.e. dining). Print promotion, however, is not part of the deal at this point. Sales also aren’t part of the deal, which is non-exclusive. Other media companies can sign with Groupon both in McClatchy markets and outside of it.

Groupon appears very likely to announce other local media deals in the near future – a likelihood driven by the efforts of Business Development VP Sean Smyth, a longtime local media vet with Tribune, Metromix and other local media companies. In general, there is recognition that Groupon has developed a presence in several McClatchy markets without any brand assistance. Groupon will, however, develop custom versions specifically for McClatchy readers.

At our Marketplaces conference last March in San Diego, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said that his early vision was to team with The Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper. But he soon realized that Groupon could roll out faster and with more editorial independence by working solo and relying primarily on telesales. Now, Groupon expects to surpass The Tribune’s circulation in Chicago by year end. But evidently, newspapers local promotion capabilities remain a strong incentive for partnerships.

McClatchy VP Chris Hendricks tells us that he sees a net plus for both companies by helping promote Groupon. “They’ve got their space,” but McClatchy offers Groupon more “entry points” to readers and deals, he says.

The deal also enables maximum flexibility for both companies. Conceivably, the Groupon deals could be included in a product suite, he says. The limited nature of the deal, and limited commitment, is also seen as a plus. “We have a lot of stuff going on,” says Hendricks. “An affiliate marketing program fits in better,” and “lets us get out of the gate.”

Living Social, #2 ‘Deal a Day’ Site, Adds UK

Living Social, the #2 deal a day site after Groupon with $44 million raised, announced today that it has expanded beyond the U.S., adding London as its 27th market. Additional UK sites in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool are up next. dozens of additional markets worldwide are expected to be launched throughout the year

We visited last week with CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy at his Washington DC headquarters. O’Shaughnessy says the company has focused on building real scale and now has 180 employees.

Its plans for rapid expansion not only include large metros but suburban locations as well. Los Angeles, for instance, has been divided by the company into LA, Orange County and The San Fernando Valley. The vast majority of sales are within five or ten miles, he notes.

O’Shaughnessy also says that the company has focused on feet on the street rather than telemarketing, and also on having direct relationships with both customers and merchants. He notes a music teacher in Seattle recently sold almost a year’s worth of lessons off of a single offer. “It would be hard to build this off of affiliate programs,”he says, adding that his vision for the company is as a “city guide that highlights merchants.” The daily offer is described as a “content snack.”

The company has largely developed its own markets, but has several partnership deals in place, including deals with The Washington Post and San Francisco Weekly. The deal with The Post relies on The Post for local promotion but not for sales. It includes a custom element to it specifically for Post readers.