AOL Promises Group-Buying Partners 'Email And Home Page Exposure'

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Turns out that AOL isn't betting its entire business strategy on ad revenue. The self-described content company on Tuesday unveiled a group buying site -- or what is now commonly referred to as a Groupon clone.

Wow.com will soon offer specific deals on everything from "eating" and "shopping" to "weekend outings" -- all at what AOL promises will be "an astronomically discounted price."

The promise of new revenue streams is attracting many a media company to the nascent world of social ecommerce.

In August, online wedding resource The Knot debuted what it itself called a "Groupon-like" group-buying program at Deals.WeddingChannel.com.

Meanwhile, McClatchy -- owner of The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee -- announced plans in July to partner with Groupon. Per the deal, Groupon is distributing content about shops and deals that is only available to 28 of McClatchy's local Web sites.

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Put forth as a competitive advantage, AOL says it has "significantly greater audience reach than other online coupon sites," and promises to offer business partners "email and AOL home page exposure."

Grabbing the industry's attention back in April, social buying pioneer Groupon secured $135 million from Digital Sky Technologies, along with Battery Ventures. The startup, which closed its Accel-led second round of funding late last year to the tune of $30 million, now claims to be profitable and employing over 270 employees -- the majority of whom are sales associates responsible for reaching deals with local service providers ranging from yoga studios to sushi restaurants.

Groupon offers deep discounts on local deals on everything from spas and sky diving lessons to hotels and restaurants. Discounts range from 40% to 90% of the normal price. If enough people buy into the offer, everyone gets the deal. If there aren't enough people, no one gets the deal.

Groupon collects payment and passes it on, minus their fee, to the business. What makes the service so compelling is that people have an incentive to get their friends involved to make sure the minimum is hit.

Similarly, if enough brides sign up to purchase a specific deal on WeddingChannel.com Deals, they will receive an email confirmation that the deal is theirs.

Groupon and its many clones encourage users to share deals via message boards, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as send email alerts directly to friends and family.

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