BrainTrust Query: Are we creating too many promotion channels?
Commentary by Bill
Bittner, President, BWH Consulting
During my visit to the ARTS pavilion at
the National Retail Federation Big Show this year, one of the vendors I ran
into was Third Solutions, Inc. They are another contender in the digital receipt
arena, but they have combined their digital receipt offering with a personalized
marketing campaign that delivers electronic coupons over either their website
or the retailer’s. Customers don’t have to clip coupons, which are delivered
automatically at checkout time.
The promotion aspect sounds like another company
we highlighted last year, Zavers.com, which offers a way for manufacturers
to distribute consumer POS coupons electronically. This got me thinking about
how difficult it is becoming for advertisers to reach consumers through the
retail channel. If each retailer signs up with a different software house to
manage their electronic coupon offer, how will advertisers keep up with the
fragmented marketplace? It is similar to the effort on data synchronization,
where retailer-specific requirements for adding new items make it difficult
for manufacturers to introduce new products.
To some extent, Google AdSense
and DoubleClick take care of this issue for the virtual world. Google advertisers
contract with Google; websites offer display space; Google places the ads,
and pays the website when users click on the link. The advertiser only deals
with Google, but their message is distributed across various websites. DoubleClick
provides broad distribution and management of banner ads for advertisers in
Paper coupons can be distributed a variety of
ways. Free standing inserts, direct mail, in-store promotion, and third party
affiliations can all be used to distribute paper coupons and the same coupon
can be redeemed at many retail locations. Right now, electronic promotions
require the advertiser and consumer to log into a specific website in order
to present or select their promotions. There has to be a better way.
Questions: Is there an industry-wide answer for the convenient distribution
of electronic coupons? Is there an opportunity here for advertisers or
an independent company to act as an “electronic coupon broker”?