Coupons are BIG BUSINESS on the internet today, and understandably so with more and more merchants trying to drive traffic to their websites.  Not only does it provide a nice incentive for shoppers to "shop from home", but it also gives the merchant a way of tracking and measuring the success of their efforts.  Just one more online marketing tool to increase qualified traffic?  Maybe...

Coupons are only good if consumers are aware of them, and sometimes a merchant just can't reach everyone they would like to distribute their coupons to.  Enter Coupon Websites.  There are a myriad of websites dedicated to promoting coupons, and they use everything available to them in their online arsenol.  The majority of them are built through Affiliate Marketing initiatives, which allow the site owners to earn commissions for every sale generated from visitors who have come to collect a coupon code.  Just do a search for ANYTHING you are shopping for, and attach the word coupons to your search and you will see just how popular this method of marketing has become.  It's a win for everyone!  The consumer finds their deal, the merchant gains their qualified traffic in a Cost Per Aquisition method as well as the life span of the consumer, and the coupon site earns their revenue for being a good marketing partner.

Larger companies are quite aware of the possibilities as well.  ValueClick, Inc. for example, owners of Affiliate Network Commission Junction and one of the worlds largest integrated online marketing companies saw value in MeziMedia and signed an agreement in 2007 to purchase them for $100 million cash plus earn out.  MeziMedia is the parent company of Comparison Shopping Engine site as well as coupon giant, and rebate shopping site Yahoo! has also partnered with coupon sites along the way to boost their shopping portal, and the list goes on.

Ahhhhh, if it could all be just as nice and friendly and easy as it sounds for everyone.  There are things that merchants have to be aware of as well when opening up to Coupon Offers.  If you have one coupon partner looking for exclusive coupons, I can pretty much guarantee you will have EVERY coupon partner looking for exclusive coupons.  They will do everything they can to protect anything that you provide to them as an exclusive offer, however, there are unscrupulous other coupon marketers out there who spend all of their time scouring competitor sites and stealing coupon codes.  Therefore it becomes necessary for Merchants to find a way to make their coupons specific to each partner for proper compensation.  This may mean that if the thieving coupon site has success with the coupon, the compensation still goes to the rightful coupon site.  (BEWARE not to make the coupon not valid if it comes from the wrong site because you will just lose a customer!)  Expiry dates need to be verified with every coupon partner site to ensure they are current, or again, you will lose the customer.

Lastly, paid search initiatives can take a hit.  Customer comes to merchant's website and finds exactly what they are looking for through paid search campaign.  Then they leave and go find a coupon code.  Then they come back, use the code, and the sale is attributed to the coupon partner, and not the paid search campaign.  There are scripting ways around this from happening, but this just illustrates some of the possible difficulties.

As a consumer?  PURE WIN, so if you are looking for some good deals, they really are out there and worth finding!  See you at the checkout page!

Doug Gebhardt


The Doug