The Mobile Marketing Association has released an updated primer on mobile couponing as it works toward establishing a standard ad unit for mobile offers and discounts.
The MMA formed a specific group late last year to develop a mobile coupon ad format to help promote consumer use of on-device coupons for redemption at checkout. A Forrester report last week projected that U.S. in-store mobile payments overall will nearly double this year to more than $1 billion and reach $41 billion by 2017.
But technological and business hurdles to growth remain, especially at the point-of-sale. The new MMA report lays out a six-step process for developing a mobile ad unit to help address these issues. It includes developing a conceptual framework around mobile coupons and rewards, developing ad specifications, conducting field trials and launching a compliance program.
The MMA’s Mobile Coupon Ad Unit Standards Committee, whose members are drawn from companies such as FunMobility, Valpak, Spotzot, Hipcricket, Medialets and RadiumOne, plans to begin testing a coupon ad format by the second quarter.
"As mobile presents new opportunities for personal brand engagement, marketers need to consider tactics like mobile coupons to get their brand in the hands of consumers while they are in searching or purchasing mode," said Michael Becker, North American head of the MMA. “This is the reason why MMA members have rallied around this.”
The primer acknowledges that retailers’ limited ability to redeem mobile coupons at the point-of-sale (POS) remains a stumbling block to growth. Most stores don’t yet have the optical scanners required to read m-coupons and POS systems are varied to begin with. That means store clerks often have to manually enter codes from phones, slowing the checkout process.
“To overcome this obstacle, standards for mobile coupons must be compatible with standards for digital coupons in terms of set-up and communication, acquisition, validation, redemption and reconciliation,” stated the “Current State & Promise of Mobile Couponing” report.
But with retailers still experimenting with different technologies from Near Field Communication (NFC) to Square’s mobile payment system, that’s easier said than done.
The document also adapts a five-stage process for digital coupons from the Association of Coupon Professionals that includes setup and communication, discovery and acquisition, presentment, validation and redemption, and reconciliation.
The discovery and acquisition section, for instance, discusses newer options like Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet for pushing out offers. In one example, Valpak said users of its app have shared more than 90,000 coupons through its Passbook integration, which removed barriers like registration and account linking to encourage adoption.
The Forrester report said coupons are part of the strategy to boost mobile payments by increasing convenience and delivering clear benefits to consumers. But coupons and other value-added services will just be “table stakes” for in-store, or proximity, payments. In that vein, the MMA is trying to help marketers at least “ante up” by creating standards for mobile coupons.