Predictions for mobile proximity and beacons in 2016

Mobile proximity is ready for its coming-of-age moment this year, thanks to a better understanding of technology, methodology and best practice from all parties involved.
Here are five predictions for mobile proximity in 2016:
1. Marketers will require better data authenticity and accuracy to make smarter connections with their consumers, leading to wider adoption of first-party GPS and beacons, and a move away from third-party data 
Effective mobile proximity campaigns require accurate data, but in 2015, location fraud was a real issue.
Take, for example, programmatic location data, of which more than half is inaccurate. Of the 37 percent of data that was accurate, it was only to 100 meters. That is an entire city block in New York, or the difference between the grocery store and the dry cleaner next store in a suburb.
If marketers want to create verified in-store engagements through mobile, and effectively communicate with their shoppers at the most important time in the purchase cycle, they need to demand better, fresher data from location providers.
2. Offline retailers will leverage digital tactics such as retargeting and pre-targeting to help drive real world sales
Ecommerce just passed offline sales on Black Friday for the first time. This is perhaps the most significant shift for retail in the past century, and something that has been speculated about since the early days of the Internet. Now that it has finally happened, many offline retailers might be thinking about how they can survive such a monumental shift in consumer behavior.
The smartest retailers are using digital marketing tactics and tapping in-store mobile engagement to drive incremental sales, while others are making the in-store experience more exciting.
As marketers’ understanding of proximity technology gets better, the conversation is moving beyond simple in-store engagements and toward previously impossible tactics for offline brands and merchants such as retargeting.
Formerly the exclusive domain of ecommerce, retargeting has been one of the most successful methods of marketing for digital companies for nearly a decade.
Now, thanks to the accurate data provided by beacons and their ability to function like an offline cookie, offline marketers can level the playing field with their ecommerce competition and deploy retargeting based on offline store visit data.
Results have been exciting thus far, with retailers driving an 8 percent increase in store visits thanks to retargeting via store visit data from beacons.
3. Consumers will expect contextual mobile and added value in offline shopping
More than 84 percent of smartphone owners use their devices in the store to help them shop, and applications in large part have become the conduit for marketers to connect with shoppers in the store.
But in order to be effective, these engagements must provide some kind of value to the shopper, both in native context of the app and the place in which they are delivered.
Some of the most successful mobile engagements are happening in the grocery setting, where the most frequent shopping trips occur and there are many products on the shelves.
Hidden Valley provided a great example of how to reach shoppers with quality content, running a campaign about quick and easy dinner ideas through the recipe app, Epicurious. The campaign created a natural connection that made sense from a consumer standpoint.
Another app, List Ease, simply reminds shoppers to check their list upon entering the store, before deploying a branded interstitial.
The friendly reminder to check your list – perhaps even saving you a trip back to the store if you were to forget an item – is worth a branded interstitial in the consumer’s mind.
These digital benefits in offline shopping are what millennial consumers expect from marketers – and any ads delivered need to be worth it from the shopper’s standpoint.
4. Mobile proximity will move out of innovation budgets to become the fastest growing piece of mobile ad spending in 2016 
The hype phase about beacons and proximity technology is over, and we now have real best practice guiding brands and retailers to engage shoppers at appropriate times and places.
Now that marketers have a better understanding of the technology and what is required of them to make it all work, we will see the end of the toe-dip era and more brands jumping into the pool.
The combination of opportunity, existing in-store consumer behavior, best practice, location data accuracy and experience with proximity campaigns will pave the way for tremendous growth in 2016.
5. Proximity will start to be used more effectively by nonprofits
Retail and consumer packaged goods brands have been on the forefront of beacon and proximity technology, and advertisers are achieving real success with the technology.
But the real exciting developments might come from a different group: nonprofits.
Earlier this year, a company called Wayfndr deployed beacons to the London Tube system in an effort to help the visually impaired navigate the subway system.
Back in the United States, the Zac Brown Band leveraged beacon technology to drive awareness for its partner charity, Warriors to Summits. In 2016, we will see more exciting uses of beacon technology outside of retail or events and in new places.
Kevin Hunter is president of inMarket, Venice, CA. Reach him at [email protected].

The Paperless Chase

Retailers seek to engage consumers through easier delivery of e-coupons.

August 14, 2015, 12:48 pm By John Karolefski,
Digital coupons are currently a footnote in overall coupon distribution and redemption. Traditional free-standing inserts (FSIs) that shoppers receive in newspapers are overwhelmingly dominant.

But if newspaper readership is declining and so-called “Mobile Millennials” will be the key grocery shopper of the future, it’s clear that digital offers will grow.

Digital coupons are available on a grocer’s website or smartphone app. They can be loaded onto a store’s loyalty card. They’re also available on websites for coupon networks and coupon aggregators, which both draw a huge amount of traffic from deal seekers.

“Given the recent outstanding track record for digital promotions, there is no question that these offers are gaining momentum with both shoppers and marketers, and that there is tremendous future growth potential for them,” affirms John Ross, CMO of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar and president of Inmar Analytics, whose research has seen 100 percent year-over-year growth for five consecutive years in share of overall redemption for paperless digital offers.

Considering the Source

But which source for selecting and redeeming digital coupons will grocery shoppers rely on the most?

“Digital coupons have a value to consumers because they are convenient,” says David Ciancio, senior customer strategist at Cincinnati-based Dunnhumby North America. “The best-in-class capabilities allow consumers to select and load hundreds of digital coupons directly to their loyalty card or to a mobile app, and redemption is automatic and painless for the shopper.”

“Grocery loyalty cards are fully saturated. Most grocery shoppers currently have loyalty cards for every grocery retailer they frequent,” contends Jonathan Treiber, of RevTrax. “CPGs are wary of providing lots of offer content in this category, because of the retailer-specified terms and conditions. They’re really more focused on providing just enough offer content to maintain a positive merchandising relationship with their key retail partners. You’ll find that CPGs rarely promote digital coupons via loyalty cards because they find them less effective than traditional print free-standing inserts and print-at-home coupons,” adds the president and co-founder of the New York-based company, which uses personalized offers to quantify digital marketing’s impact on in-store sales.

Other experts single out a retailer’s smartphone app as being the logical place to clip and redeem digital coupons. Gainsville, Ga.-based Invisipon, a new entry into the fray, promotes a Coupon Savings Account that provides an online “bank account” of coupons for consumers.

Despite the competition, statistics from Inmar show that growth of digital paperless load-to-card (L2C) coupons has been accelerating significantly for the past several years, although from a small base. The wider availability of L2C coupons contributed to a greater than 61 percent increase in redemption volume for these coupons during Q1 2015 versus Q1 2014. Concurrently, overall share of redemption for coupons that shoppers load directly to their retailer loyalty accounts grew from 1.5 percent in Q1 2014 to 2.7 percent in Q1 2015.

A Question of Loyalty

Grocery retailers that have made these coupons a key feature of their frequent shopper loyalty programs are benefiting, notes Inmar, citing convenience and flexibility as major reasons for this.

In June, ShopRite stores, operated in the Northeast by members of Keasby, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp., sought to persuade its shoppers to use digital coupons by promoting a Big Brand Bash campaign. For the most savings, the campaign instructed shoppers to go to the ShopRite website or mobile app, and select and load clipless coupons onto their Price Plus Club cards. Discounts were triggered automatically at checkout.

Similarly, shoppers at supermarkets operated by Cincinnati-based Kroger can sign up for digital coupons on their computers, tablets or the Kroger app on their smartphones. Then they can clip coupons, and sort and filter them on the Kroger website or app. Once they find offers they want, they click “load to card,” which places the coupons on their Kroger Plus loyalty cards.

Aaron Glazer, of San Francisco-based Taplytics, says grocers benefit most by sending coupons through their own apps, rather than having customers discover them elsewhere. It boils down to being able to personalize that offer, which makes it more attractive and, subsequently, drives growth.

“That said, no single CPG brand or grocery retailer has really cornered the mobile space, so there’s plenty of room for one to break out from the pack,” says Glazer, CEO of the provider of an integrated, mobile A/B testing, push notification and analytics platform. “Mobile can help grocers reach their shoppers in a way that’s more intimate and relevant than any other channel. When they send a coupon, it’s going right into the consumer’s hand or pocket, and that’s a powerful thing that can’t be replicated on a website.”

Recently, Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based parent company of Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, launched a program with, in Mountain View, Calif., that enables each banner to deliver personalized digital coupons to a smartphone app and website.

Once a customer creates an account and registers her reward card, personalized coupons will be delivered online or via the mobile app. Customers can easily click and save offers and redeem them using either a physical reward card, phone number lookup, or the app’s digital reward card at the register.

According to Bert DuMars, VP of digital marketing at Southeastern Grocers: “The coupons on our new app and site are unique in that they are delivered to each customer based on his or her shopping behaviors and geographic interests and then prioritized, so those that most closely match their preferences appear first. No other grocer in the Southeast offers this kind of personalization.”

Growing Potential

Retailers and brands will need to collaborate on the development of a true mobile coupon solution to fully realize the benefits of digital promotions, according to Inmar’s Ross. “As smartphone and device penetration continues to accelerate exponentially and consumers transfer more and more daily activities from their desktops to their mobile devices, the demand for such a solution is only going to grow,” he says. “Consumer behavior has shifted, media preferences are changing, and the industry needs to respond.”

Taplytics’ Glazer sees mobile couponing attracting more consumers as they grow comfortable showing their smartphones to cashiers at checkout, and as promotions become more relevant and targeted. One of the newer and most effective ways that brands are delivering coupons into customers’ hands, he says, is by sending them push notifications on their smartphones. This draws users back to the app, so they can build even more app engagement and loyalty, which is something brands and retailers are struggling to achieve.

“One consideration retailers like Safeway and Kroger have made is to ensure that the app works equally well on the tablet or smaller mobile phones,” says Darcy Douglas, director of account solutions at Minneapolis-based Kantar Media Marx. “Not all retailers have committed to this level of coverage in support of shopper ease. This method has a real potential to take off, since both tablet and smartphone deliver a different experience to the shopper.”

“Mobile coupons are turning out to be one of the favorite promotional tools for grocers to influence, incentivize and encourage customers towards trying their products,” says Anil Kaul, CEO of San Francisco-based Absolutdata, a provider of advanced analytics. “The ability to identify customers individually, track their purchase behavior and send personalized offers are the main reasons for the growth of this channel.”

Meanwhile, RevTrax’s Treiber contends that loading digital coupons to a retailer’s app is misleading because it’s probably either being loaded to a loyalty card synced with the user account or a user account without a loyalty card. “But consumers will most likely continue to adopt digital coupons by clipping them via the retailer’s mobile app, as mobile adoption continues to grow at a disproportionate rate to desktop. Tablet for coupons will likely be last, behind desktop and mobile,” he predicts.

L2C digital coupons aren’t confined to a grocer’s loyalty card. Kroger links digital coupons to its Kroger Plus credit card. While such applications are rare, that may change soon: Boston-based Linkable Networks has launched a program for retailers that enables shoppers to link digital coupons to a credit or debit card.

Nearly eight out of 10 consumers didn’t make a CPG purchase in the store because they forgot a coupon, according to Linkable Networks CMO John Caron, citing a study that Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research did on behalf of his company. “This is costing retailers and brands real revenue,” he asserts. “Card-linked offers and load-to-card both solve this. The second-biggest issue for consumers is ease of use. Print-at-home and load-to-smartphone are ranked lowest for ease of use, while the ‘lowly’ FSI and on-package come in at one and two, respectively. What’s a close third? Card-linked offers. They solve the fundamental issue around digital coupons, because they’re insanely easy to use, you cannot forget them and, in time, you can use them everywhere.”

Linkable is one of the first vendors in the market with a solution. “Our pilot with Supervalu is going incredibly well,” notes Caron. “Time will tell, but personalization, automatic or invisible redemption, always available, and fully digital are changing how CPG brands and retailers provide value to their consumers.”

“Digital coupons have a value to consumers because they are convenient.”
—David Ciancio, Dunnhumby North America

“Mobile can help grocers reach their shoppers in a way that’s more intimate and relevant than any other channel.”
—Aaron Glazer, Taplytics

“The coupons on our new app and site are unique in that they are delivered to each customer based on his or her shopping behaviors and geographic interests and then prioritized.”
—Bert DuMars, Southeastern Grocers

L2C Coupons Engage Millennials
Millennials respond to digital coupons loaded onto a store’s loyalty card more than other shopper groups do, according to research by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar.
“Digital coupons are an entrenched and broadly accepted aspect of retailer loyalty programs — with their popularity proven and growing,” says John Ross, CMO, Inmar and president, Inmar Analytics. “If retailers can be effective in meeting shoppers’ expectations regarding loyalty program participation and the online experience, they can, in turn, expect digital promotions to help keep customers and grow their business.”
In Inmar’s “2015 Shopper Behavior Study,” 37 percent of Millennials reported that they “usually” or “always” use coupons loaded to their retail store loyalty cards, compared with 29 percent of older shoppers. More recently, research for Inmar’s “Q1 2015 Shopper Promotion Impact Report” found that 20 percent of the coupons used by Millennials in the first three months of the year were load-to-card (L2C) offers, versus 9 percent of the coupons used by older shoppers.
“While digital coupons are popular with Millennials,” Ross observes, “paperless offers are being used regularly across all shopper segments and represent an established and well-accepted element of most retailer loyalty programs.”
—John Karolefski
By John Karolefski,
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Digital Paperless Coupons Continue Rapid Growth


Advisor, Executive, Entrepreneur | Expert in Digital Coupons, Retail Loyalty Programs, E-Commerce, Customer Analytics

Digital paperless coupons have continued to grow quickly and now are the most popular way to get savings from the Internet or mobile devices.

The market for digital paperless coupons, primarily load to card offers, is still young. My team and I at Kroger launched the industry’s first digital paperless coupon program in partnership with P&G in November 2007 but the industry didn’t really begin to take off until 2010 when YOU Technology, where I was CEO, launched retailer-branded digital paperless coupon sites at Kroger, Giant Eagle, and other retailers. Since then, digital paperless coupons have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 150%.

Based on my analysis of data from NCH, U.S. shoppers downloaded over 1.3 billion digital paperless coupons in 2014. Digital paperless downloads were up 27% after more than doubling in 2013. Overall, digital paperless coupon downloads have grown by over 20x since 2010 (see chart below).

Source: NCH Annual Topline View CPG Coupon Facts for Year-End 2014 (download based on total redemptions divided by est. redemption rates)

In contrast, the number of coupons shoppers printed at home actually shrank by about 7% in 2014 to 1.2 billion prints. Based on these numbers, digital paperless coupon downloads surpassed coupon prints for the first time (see chart below).

Source: NCH Annual Topline View CPG Coupon Facts for Year-End 2014 (downloads/prints based on total redemptions divided by est. redemption rates for each vehicle)

This trend will only accelerate over time as retailers and CPGs continue to shift marketing budgets to digital paperless coupons. Indeed, even, the dominant player in print at home coupons, is focusing increasingly on Retailer iQ, its digital paperless coupon platform.

In total, shoppers downloaded or printed 2.5 billion digital coupons in 2014, which was still less than 1% of total coupons distributed, implying that the digital paperless coupon market has a substantial amount of headroom to grow.

Digital paperless coupons are revolutionizing how retailers and engage shoppers for several reasons:

  • Provide a seamless way to deliver incentives via digital devices, in particular mobile phones (mobile already makes up over 50% of digital paperless coupon downloads);
  • Largely eliminates fraud and mis-redemption risk for CPGs and retailers;
  • Provides a robust platform for retailer-CPG collaboration.

Eight of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 food/mass/drug retailers provide digital paperless coupons in one form or another. Kroger and Safeway continue to have the largest programs in terms of downloads although Target with its Cartwheel program has been generating significant consumer traction. The biggest hold out remains Walmart, which is by far the largest redeemer of paper coupons. Walmart purportedly shelved the rollout of a digital paperless coupon program earlier this year as part of a broader move to re-emphasize EDLP.

The digital paperless coupon market is largely shopper marketing driven. Unlike the FSI or print-at-home coupons, CPGs don’t have a national distribution vehicle to support national brand marketing campaigns. Instead, almost all digital paperless coupon downloads in 2014 were made from a retailer website or mobile app. The reason for this is simple: retailers want to drive traffic to their own digital properties and so make it difficult for shoppers to download digital paperless coupons from third party consumer websites or apps (such as Facebook, Google,, and Yahoo) or via CPG CRM programs.  As a result, CPGs primarily use digital paperless to support their retailer-specific shopper marketing initiatives, not national brand programs.

Looking ahead, I expect the digital coupon market will grow to 25% of total U.S. coupon redemptions within the next 3-5 years, up from 10% today (with digital paperless coupons accounting for 80% or more of this amount). This estimate assumes several key catalysts will emerge to drive future growth:

  • The remaining large food/mass/drug retailers launch their own digital paperless coupon programs, in particular Walmart;
  • Key retailers and CPGs agree to create a national distribution platform for digital paperless coupons that enables CPGs to reach a national audience of consumers with national brand dollars;
  • In-store proximity marketing goes from testing to full roll out as retailers deploy beacons, augmented reality, NFC and other technologies to deliver relevant offers to shoppers as they are shopping.

Please contact me   if you are interested in a more detailed analysis of the market including vendor and pricing trends.

Coupons Could Crown a Winner in the Mobile Wallet Wars

Want to use your phone to pay for your groceries at the checkout? Hope you like paying full price!

Largely touted as the next big thing in retail, mobile wallets are convenient, for sure. But for savvy shoppers, they come with an unfortunate hitch – mobile wallets don’t support coupons.

Until now, that is.

Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) has announced that its CurrentC mobile payment platform will become the first mobile wallet to integrate digital manufacturer’s coupons. MCX has partnered with digital coupon provider Inmar, to allow users to digitally clip grocery coupons within the CurrentC app.

So why is this a big deal? It could help mobile wallets make the leap from a newfangled niche product, to a must-have.

If you’re handy with your smartphone, you may already be familiar with mobile payment systems offered by stores like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle. To pay, all you have to do is scan a bar code on your phone – no more fumbling for cash, checks or credit cards.

But each of those platforms operates through the retailer’s own app. So while your pockets or purse may be a little lighter without having to carry your wallet around, your phone may end up cluttered with apps from every store you visit.

That’s where platforms like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and CurrentC come in. They’re just a few of several mobile wallets that are designed to be used anywhere you shop. All you have to do is link your payment method, and your store loyalty program information, and you’ll be able to use your phone to check out anywhere your preferred payment method is accepted, without having to carry cash, checks, debit or credit cards.

If you like to use coupons, though – hold the phone. You’ll still have to carry around those little slips of paper and stand there as your cashier scans them, or log on to your store’s website or app to load digital coupons to your loyalty card. That detracts from the convenience, speed and seamlessness that mobile wallets promise. Plus, with many retailers, if you use a mobile wallet to pay for online pickup or delivery, you can’t use coupons at all.

MCX hopes its platform will help solve that problem. “This partnership will enable CurrentC users to effortlessly access savings from many of the country’s largest and most popular brands,” MCX announced this week. “Access to individual brand offers that are redeemable through a mobile payment app at multiple retailers will distinguish CurrentC from other platforms currently in the marketplace.”

And there are a whole lot of other platforms in the marketplace. Apple, Google, PayPal and many others are competing to dominate the mobile wallet world. So far, none of them works across the board with every retailer, or every financial institution. And until now, none offered the ability to clip digital coupons within the mobile wallet application itself.

That’s largely because MCX was formed and is owned by a consortium of retailers. Most mobile wallets only know how much you owe at the end of your transaction, not what individual items you purchased. And without knowing what you bought, they can’t apply coupons. CurrentC is fully integrated into its retailers’ point of sale, so it knows what you bought and can apply coupons seamlessly.

Independent of CurrentC, some MCX partner stores like CVS and Meijer already offer digital coupons via their own websites and apps, and Target plans to make digital coupons available soon. But MCX partnerWalmart has long been a digital coupon holdout. So CurrentC could ultimately represent a backdoor way for digital coupon fans to get their fix at the country’s largest retailer.

If you’re itching to give it a try, you’ll have to wait a while, unless you live in Columbus, Ohio. That’s the only place CurrentC is in use just yet, as it operates an invitation-only pilot program. Rivals like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are in use much more widely, but they don’t have what CurrentC hopes will be its secret to success.

“Digital coupons are becoming the primary promotion method for reaching an increasingly mobile shopper base,” MCX said in its announcement this week. And if CurrentC’s coupon-ready platform succeeds, paying with your phone will not only save you time and trouble – but could end up saving you money, too.

Source: August 28, 2015 in Coupons In The News


What is a growth hacker?

growth hacker (noun) – one whose passion and focus is pushing a metric through use of a testable and scalable methodology.

“Growth hacker” is a new word for most but a long held practice among the best internet marketers and product managers in Silicon Valley. With mass media fading away and the onslaught of mass customization & niching on the web, marketing as we known it for the past 100 years has died. People are awash with mounds of data and marketing fatigue is at an all-time high. Users are drowning and won’t pay attention to the next best widget, regardless of how good it is. Distribution is now the number one problem that faces every product and every startup.

Growth hacking appeared as the modern way in the age of Web 2.0 to reach a market and distribute an idea. Instead of classic marketing which typically interrupts your day, a growth hacker uses “pull”; he or she understands user behavior provides value immediately to persuade. A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users. A growth hacker will leverage across disciplines, pulling in insights from behavioral economics and gamification, to find the right message to pull in users.

A growth hacker finds a strategy within the parameters of a scalable and repeatable method for growth, driven by product and inspired by data. Growth hacking’s goal are based in marketing but driven by product instincts. A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing. A growth hacker lives within the product team and has a technical vocabulary to implement what he or she wants.

The essential characteristic of a growth hacker is creativity. His or her mind is the best tool in their war chest. A growth hacker looks beyond adwords or SEO for distribution. Traditional marketing channels often means high cost per acquisition and low life-time value due to high saturation. In an age of social users, the right growth strategy with the right product-market fit will lead to massive scale through viral loops.

The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by it’s self; however, growth hacking is a process, not a secret book of ideas. Growth strategies cannot be easily copied and pasted from product to product. Growth is never instantaneous. It is never overnight. It is a mindset at which you approach problems.

If you want to learn more, I provided some links below. You can contact me on through email: aginnt @ gmail.