Automation and self-service technology will turn co-op coupon services into Google AdWords for daily deal sites. DealOn, a group-buying Web site and deal distribution network, has spent the past year building a platform called OfferEx designed to connect media sites with companies that want to offer deals and discounts to consumers. Rich Razgaitis, DealOn.com CEO, told MediaPost Monday the co-branded white-label platform will do for daily deals what DoubleClick did for publishers.
DealOn supports three strategies: daily deal emails direct to consumers, distribution deals via white-label or co-branded partners, and OfferEx exchange platform connecting resellers with suppliers offering deals.
The OfferEx platform in private beta with about 20 unnamed companies could down the road become one of several automated systems that DealOn offers. Another service will likely become a self-service platform similar to the Groupon Store for local merchants that will allow marketers to set up the daily deals without going through a salesperson. That means signing in through a Web portal, designing an ad, and picking the day and the geography where the group coupon or daily deal will become valid.
Groupon's service will change businesses a 10% commission on sales, rather than the standard 50%. The deals will connect with Facebook and other social sites. Automation could have set the wheels in motion for a potential Google buyout.
There's a lot of hype surrounding local. Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst at Forrester Research focused on eBusiness for retail, believes a self-service platform might be efficient, but possibly not effective. "It would be very lucrative because you don't need a sales force, which is the biggest cost in Groupon's model now," she says. "Without a sales force you can end up with a lot more mediocre deals."
Today, DealOn's OfferEx supports companies with a sales force that can get enough deals in the system that matches the site's audience, write the copy, and select the image presenting the offer driving consumers to make the purchase. The platform provides support for companies that have a content management system in place and can pull the best deals for the market.
That deal could be loaded by any number of resellers, from directories to media companies that have success with group buying and want to monetize the fixed cost of having captured and syndicated deals. "In time it could become a self-service interface for suppliers," Razgaitis says. "There's no one else building this type of offer exchange platform, which connects through an API to a content management system."
Razgaitis believes platforms like OfferEx will become the future of group buying. Through an API, companies can hook up with the service to offer automated server transactions. The consumer never needs to leave the media company's platform. For example, several daily deal sites can feed special prices and offers into OfferEx. Resellers can purchase the daily deals at a fixed bid price and pull this into their content management system to resell through a distribution network.
Nation's Restaurant News (NRN), a news and information portal for the restaurant and food service industry, announced an agreement with DealOn Monday to provide the restaurant industry with a group buying and online marketing program.
Restaurant marketers participating in NRN's program receive access to a range of DealOn's group-buying services including developing, scheduling and promoting deals. All deals are distributed through DealOn's affiliate distribution network and private-label publishers, OfferEx.com, the group-buying exchange and Adblade, an online ad network.
NRN's deal will be added to the DealOn network, giving DealOn's distribution and OfferEx partners access to more restaurant offers.