Coupon, couponer, couponest: Facebook meets Brandcaster Social

November 17, 2011

Just when you thought every twist on online coupons was out there, Coupons.com is using Facebook to try to get even more discounts into consumer paws.

The company is launching an app, Brandcaster Social, to make it easier for companies to post scannable coupons with barcodes on Facebook. Brandcaster coupons remain in Facebook, and Brandcaster makes sure potential customers who click on links within Facebook– such as a message in their newsfeed about a friend liking a coupon– to an expired offer see a message offering a perk like advance notice of any upcoming deals. Currently, potential customers clicking on links to outdated online coupons often see a “page expired” message.

Coupons.com says Brandcaster also makes it easier to keep track of things like how many new fans a company got because of a specific promotion, and how they relate to existing fans.

The idea is to try to get more of the consumer packaged-goods companies that make up coupons.com’s biggest customer group using coupons on Facebook, said coupons.com’s CEO Steven Boal. Right now, about $2.3 billion of the $26 billion spent on online advertising is for consumer packaged-goods companies, and just a portion of that is for coupons, according to eMarketer.

In some ways, giant packaged-goods companies are at a disadvantage running promotions on Facebook. They can’t easily offer passwords-of-the-day and other promotions that smaller retailers frequently throw onto their Facebook pages, simply because it would require keeping store clerks at thousands of retailers abreast of the latest code word or whatever gimmick the deal hinges on. Vouchers with barcodes, on the other hand, are trusted by retailers.

Unlike daily deals sites such as Groupon, coupons.com doesn’t require the consumer to pay up front for the deal. It makes its money when the consumer prints or saves the coupon, typically taking a flat fee per coupon.

Coupons.com recently won a $30 million investment from Greylock Partners, on top of a $200 million investment in June from institutional investors that valued the company at $1 billion.

Facebook was testing daily deals in some markets, but killed the program in the summer. But Facebook users who “check in” on Facebook when they visit participating merchants can still land deals through its Check-In Deals service.

Google, which tried to buy Groupon last year, works with Google Offers, deals that are available to Google+ users and others.

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