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Party City scares up Halloween sales with mobile coupon campaign

Party City is scaring up sales this Halloween by delivering special offers to mobile users who are nearby competing stores.

The strategy points to how retailers are increasingly leveraging smartphone users’ location data to reach competitors’ customers in a practice called geo-conquesting.  The Party City ads and push notifications are being delivered in the SnipSnap mobile couponing application, on Facebook and across the ActionX retargeting platform.

“Party City wanted to be able to target not only all the people that might be near one of its stores but also to target people who might be going to one of its competitors’ stores,” said Ted Mann, CEO/founder of SnipSnap, Philadelphia, PA.

“When these stores pop up, they want to be able to steal market share from those guys and to get them back to one of their stores,” he said.

“A lot of these stores pop up all in one region. The real trick is we need to be able to get those locations almost in real time because a month ago, a lot of those stores weren’t even open.”

The campaign was developed in conjunction with mobile couponing app SnipSnap.

PartyCity did not respond to a request for comment.

Halloween treats
As consumer interest in Halloween has grown, the holiday has turned into a big event for merchants selling party supplies and costumes.

While Party City is a year-round retailer, there are a number of businesses opening pop-up stores during the period leading up to Halloween, such as Spirit and Halloween Adventure.

Party City recognized an opportunity to leverage mobile – which users carry with them everywhere and which is playing a bigger role in how consumers shop – to reach users nearby these competing retailers with a mobile coupon intended to drive them into its own stores.

This is one of Party City’s first forays into using mobile for couponing.

When users click on the offer, they are taken to a mobile landing page with a coupon code that can be redeemed at any Party City or Halloween City location.

Mobile retargeting
The SnipSnap app, which has close to two million users, offers thousands of coupons that users can discover within the app and enables users to take a picture of any printed coupon with a smartphone that can be redeemed in stores.

Party City is able to target coupons to SnipSnap’s users based on their past coupon-clipping history and deliver a push notification with an offer when they are nearby a Party City or Halloween City location or nearby one of its competitors.

To extend the reach for retailers, SnipSnap has also partnered with ActionX, enabling SnipSnap to reach users with an ad when they are outside of its own app, but inside another app such as RedLaser or The Weather Channel.

SnipSnap is also experimenting with a new ad unit on Facebook to retarget users on the social media platform.

Relevant ads
The campaign started two weeks and will run until Halloween. The creative and offer is being changed every week.

The coupon can be redeemed in store by displaying it on a smartphone screen so it can be scanned by a store employee at checkout.

In the two weeks that the campaign has been live, SnipSnap reports that the retargeted ads delivered via ActionX are twice as effective as other mobile ads.

“We can serve them up a really relevant ad, and the ad is essentially a coupon,” Mr. Mann said.

“You are in say a weather app, but you are near a Halloween City store or one of the competitors, you see this ad come up ad that says $10 off at Halloween City,” he said. “When you click on that, you are taken to a landing page where you can redeem the coupon right there from the Web or you can save it to a mobile wallet like Passbook or Google Wallet.”

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