Tag Archives: Mike Coleman

ILM:10: Groupon, Angie’s List and Gannett Phoenix Discuss Deal a Day

In the wake of Groupon‘s rejection of Google’s reported $6 billion offer, Groupon VP of Business Development Sean Smyth told ILM:10 attendees that one positive aspect of the news coverage was the incredible exposure that Groupon received. “We had three million new email subscribers last week,” he said. “We normally get one million per week.”

Smyth, a media vet with prior stints at MetroMix, Gannett and Tribune Interactive, said that the headcount at Groupon is now up to 3,000 employees, with half of those in sales – both telemarketing and premise. Groupon covers 300 markets, with 165 of those in North America. It is currently running 650 deals a day, with 260 in North America.

“It is an absolutely amazing space to be in,” said Smyth. But it is also fast evolving well beyond simply offering two or three deals a day (and a banner ad) in emails. Currently, the company is focused on verticalizing and personalizing efforts, as well as developing specialized features for SMBs that would allow them to control deal flow, contacts and promotional creative. “We’re trying to find different ways to get deals in front of people,” says Smyth, noting recent affiliation deals made with Yahoo, eBay, Tribune Gannett and Media General. “We love having 40 million email addresses. But if you don’t get the right deal to the right person at the right time, it doesn’t mean squat.”

Speaking on the same “Deal a Day Superforum,” Angie’s List VP Mike Rutz said his company sees deals as a natural extension of its SMB advertising. “We have been offering coupons for 15 years,” he said. In fact, having a coupon is a requirement of being an advertising on Angie’s List.

With Angie’s List Big Deal, which launched six months ago, Angie’s List opens the deal beyond its member fire wall, but members gets a discount above and beyond the standard offer. It is a great acquisition tool for membership, and also provides enhanced value for members, says Rutz.

At the same time, it is a great retention tool for advertisers, and helps build out their profile with a horde of new reports. “Ninety-six percent who ran a Big Deal have stuck with us”, he says.

Gannett Phoenix’s Mike Coleman added that his company’s new DealChicken.com is also taking the newspaper in some new directions, having attracted 40,000 local users in its early months. On the merchant side, “it is a very different sales conversation with a merchant.

Indeed, Deal Chicken is only sold by a dedicated staff in the division, as well as by Gannett Local, the company’s new SEO/SEM arm. The core newspaper staff isn’t involved at all. “They already have too many products to sell,” he said.

The model seems to be a winner. “There is huge interest at other Gannett properties,” he said.

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.