Smartphones Pushing Mobile Coupons into Mainstream

Coupons offer both advertisers and publishers clear benefits. While coupons let advertiser better measure the performance of their promotions, publishers have the opportunity to receive commissions on every redemption, and increase conversions by virtue of the coupon being an incentive.

Not surprising, then, that mobile coupons are starting to go mainstream. And the driving force behind this trend is smartphones. And as smartphones approach critical mass, we may finally see the rise of LBS (location-based-service) marketing.

Mobile Coupon Families

A recent study (commissioned by Placecast) reveals that the user profile of those who download mobile coupons has shifted. Whereas just last year, the majority of mobile coupon users were young males, mobile coupons are now being downloaded primarily by the same demographic that’s traditionally known for clipping them offline. As Ad Age reports:

A study conducted by Harris Interactive found adults with children at home are more likely to be interested in text alerts about sales and promotions than those with no kids at home. Of people with kids younger than 6 in their household, 35% are at least somewhat interested in getting opt-in text alerts from favorite businesses, compared to 32% of households with older kids and 25% of homes with no children.

[And] the balance has tilted away from men, as adoption of smartphones such as the iPhone and various Android devices has become more popular.

So as smartphones approach critical mass, they’re pulling mobile coupons along with them. But the questions remains: what larger implication could this have for mobile marketing?

Well, the answer might be that LBS advertising might not be far behind. And it might even be mobile coupons that ushers LBS into the mainstream.

LBS Advertising: Today and Tomorrow

Simply put, LBS is using a user’s geo-location to provide any kind of service (from driving directions to restaurant recommendations to advertising). The marketing opportunity is clear: LBS could easily be used to drive foot-traffic through geo-targeted ads.

But as much we’ve always been able to pin-point triangulate the location of a mobile phone user, LBS has never really taken off. Well, smartphones may change that. After all, so many of the popular apps we already use, like Foursquare, are location-driven.

Location-based-services is one of those digital trends that have been full of potential for years and years and years. But as one year fades into the next, observers keep wondering  when, and if, it’ll explode into the mainstream.

Consider this: as much as LBS apps are widely available, LBS ad technology remains in its nascent stages. However, if mobile coupon advertisers are already experiencing such positive results, why wouldn’t they begin to explore the possibilities of LBS coupons?

Essentially, LBS coupons could prove to be the incentive to develop new LBS  based ad platforms or refine existing ad networks to take advantage of LBS’s potential. The top four affiliate networks (Commission Junction, LinkShare, Google Affiliate Network, and ShareASale) are in prime position to take advantage of such a trend since running coupon campaigns is already the bread and butter of the affiliate industry. Whether through new development or refinement of existing platforms, profits from such efforts will underwrite the expansion of LBS marketing, thus making it more affordable/accessible to a wider range of advertisers.

As smartphones become the rule rather than the exception, however, we might finally see LBS join the standard arsenal of tools marketers employ. Smartphones have already demonstrated a clear and present marketing opportunity. So it may just be a matter of time before they make LBS marketing a mainstay of digital marketing.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over a decade experience leveraging search, social media, and content marketing to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to start-ups, SMBs, enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed Inc.. CT is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

2 Responses to Smartphones Pushing Mobile Coupons into Mainstream

  1. Mark Briggs says:

    Great article. LBS is already a mainstay for people who own smartphones. The challenge will be for anyone other than Google and Facebook to make headway here. I use Urbanspoon instead of Yelp when looking for a restaurant on my iphone, but there isn't any alternative to searching with Google. Places might allow Facebook to crush Foursqaure and Gowalla, so I fear that we'll be using just a few companies (as consumers) for all our location-based utility.