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Mobile coupon guidelines from MMA hope to make it easier to track ROI

By making it easier for marketers to track results from the top of the funnel where the media spend takes place all the way down to the redemption of an offer, the MMA hopes the new guidelines will help marketers better demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile marketing and, thereby attract a bigger percentage of advertising budgets. Retailers and consumer packaged goods brands are likely to be the heaviest users of the new standards.

“The challenge is that couponing tends to be seen simply as an incentive performance type marketing activity but the majority of marketing spend is happening in upper funnel advertising or media buying,” said Michael Becker, North America managing director of the MMA, New York.

“But if you think about it, a coupon is nothing more than an incentive-based advertising,” he said. “It is a unique kind of advertising, where within the advertising I am promoting an incentive for a particular good or service.

The goal of the standard is to try to link up the upper funnel advertising and media buying with the lower funnel performance marketing activity and really demonstrate and show that they are one and the same. And in many cases a marketer can be considering the coupon as just simply part of a traditional advertising media buy.”

Big business
Coupons are a big business. There were 320 billion coupons distributed in 2012, which makes coupons a significant media for connecting with consumers.

When most people think about coupons, they still think of the typical print coupon found in Sunday newspapers.

However, mobile is playing a bigger role in couponing all the time because of its ability to present the right offer to a consumer at the right time, thereby lifting response.

With this in mind, the MMA introduced its mobile coupon ad unit guidelines and specifications this week with an eye toward standardizing what a mobile coupon looks like so that consumers and store clerks can look at a mobile coupon and quickly know what it is.

Mobile brings context
Field trials for the specifications will begin this month with the goal of issuing formalized guidelines in the third quarter and launching trust badge certification, compliance and tracking by the fourth quarter.

“Loyalty incentives aren’t necessarily new but what mobile allows you to do is to bring context to the offer,” Mr. Becker said.

“What mobile allows us to do is because you get closer to the consumer and – if we are in fact doing it in an effective way – establish a one-to-one relationship,” he said.

The guidelines include a standard mobile ad that when clicked on brings users to a mobile clip unit, which contains the actual offer. From here, users can clip the coupon by either sending it to an app such as Passbook or click to have it sent to their inbox.

The guidelines also cover redemption events such as activating the coupon or activating it in a certain location and redemption.

The events that can be tracked include impressions, click-throughs, inbox clips, app clips and share clips.

“Mobile is a gaming changing medium for coupons,” said Adam Lavine, CEO of FunMobility, Pleasanton, CA, during a Webinar held by the MMA to introduce the new guidelines.

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