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Groupon beefs up mobile social strategy with acquisition

Groupon has acquired social shopping site, which lets consumers find and buy products through social networks, including Facebook.

The deal is just the latest example of how Groupon is trying to boost its mobile offerings as more consumers shop via their mobile devices. The move could help Groupon enhance its daily deals offers with more content and greater context.

“The two biggest factors in driving purchases via mobile are content and context and with the Mertado acquisition, Groupon is demonstrating its focus on these two areas,” said James Citron, CEO of Mogreet, Venice, CA.

“Leveraging Mertado’s expertise, Groupon will be able to tap into higher quality content – i.e. videos of Groupon Goods, etc. – as well as stronger context – i.e. the social graph – to increase the purchase conversion of Groupons.

“I would anticipate we will start seeing mobile video from Groupon and contextual shopping across all aspects of the mobile ecosystem – i.e. MMS messaging, mobile Web and apps.”

Rubber meets road
Mobile is important for Groupon because mobile commerce can help the deals oriented company track ROI since the sale happens on the same platform that the message was delivered on.

Earlier this month, Groupon announced a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to integrate daily deals integrated into the carrier’s mobile services.

The deal also follows the launch of Groupon Goods, which sells discounted merchandise to its subscribers. Groupon could be looking to expand Groupon Goods to social networks, a move that could help it compete with Bay and Amazon in the sale of such merchandise.

“Mobile and social commerce is where the rubber meets the road, as success is measured in terms of tracked incremental revenue generation,” said Wilson Kerr, Boston-based mobile marketing consultant. “This is what matters for to retailers and Groupon likely knows this.”

“Groupon is making a play now, as mobile and social commerce IP and personnel are being snapped up,” he said. “Owning a platform should allow them to expand their Groupon Goods program and set their sights on companies like eBay and Amazon.”

Triple play
The Groupon, deal is the latest example of how the fusion of mobile with social and shopping continues to be an important trend.

The trend is expected to pick up steam as more companies come out with consumer solutions that enable commerce via social networks from a mobile devices.

“We see an increasing number of clients, if they haven’t already integrated their mobile and social teams, they are doing it very rapidly,” said Stephen Burke, vice president of the mobile practice at Resource Interactive, Columbus, OH. “Those two touchpoints really are what are driving consumer engagement right now.

“That nexus of mobile and social is where branded interaction is going to be,” he said. “If you can add commerce to that, you can shorten the click stream, so you are not forcing consumers to exit the social experience but exposing them to offers and enabling them to convert in real time while they are engaged.”

Resource Interactive just launched an effort for Speck Products, which makes cases for digital devices, that enables consumers to click the “like” button on a Speck product page and have a Facebook stream campaign pop up on their Facebook wall so that their friends can buy the product directly from the consumer’s Facebook wall.

“What we announced with Speck is indicative of this broader trend of seamlessly integrating commerce with social experiences that are increasingly done via mobile devices,” Mr. Burke said.  

“We began to see this trend heat up in the second half of last year, for example when Google acquired the Deal Map to integrate into their Google Offers capabilities, heating up competition in the local shopping space,” he said.  

“It is natural now that Groupon has a lot of jingle in their pocket from the recent IPO that they will start strengthening their positioning here through acquisition.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York