Posted December 10, 2009 10:58 am by with 4 comments

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couponsThe move to trying to save more money online should come as no surprise to anyone for all the obvious reasons. With those reasons being so obvious we won’t belabor the point here (btw, for those wondering, the economy still kinda sucks). What is happening though, is the shift from the printed coupon to the online coupon is very real and is creating the same commotion in the heated online v. offline world as the news debate is. After all, many papers are clinging to the fact that their Sunday circulations remain OK because of the perceived savings offered by the coupons.

NCH Marketing Services, a subsidiary of Valassis Communications is reporting an increase of 30% use in traditional coupons with an additional $600 million in savings by consumers. Unfortunately, we often measure just how hot an industry is by how many lawsuits it generates.

Yahoo Finance reports:

This past summer, Valassis won a $300 million verdict against News America Marketing (NAM), a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp. It accused the coupon powerhouse of trying to monopolize supermarket advertising.

In July, following the verdict in Michigan’s Wayne County Circuit Court, NAM president Chris Mixson said the decision “rewards a company that turned to litigation as its business strategy rather than compete.” He said evidence barred by the court would have made a case that Valassis tried “to induce collusion when it announced its new pricing policy in a public investor call.”

So as with most things, the offline world is busy navel-gazing in court while the online business is preparing to move in take control.

While those two titans of paper coupons duke it out, another battleground is emerging. Although a study by Experian Marketing Services, a global information services company, assessed that 70% of households still clip coupons from newspapers, beleaguered print media companies are starting to lose their once tight grip on the market to online competitors.

NCH says online coupon distribution rose 41% during the first 9 months of 2009 and saw coupon prints from the site jump 51% so far this year. At year-end 2008, online coupons represented 4.8% of all coupons redeemed in the U.S., compared to 6.3% by mid-year 2009.

I am still amazed at how slow and plodding the offline world is in most sectors when it comes to seeing the competitive threat that online services are. Hey, all of you folks in the printed coupon business here’s your wake up call. Google purchased AdMob to get into this business. And to prove they are serious

Google has begun issuing 100,000 window stickers to businesses in more than 9,000 cities and towns. Each window decal has a unique bar code that can be scanned with the camera feature of most mobile devices. The code will then immediately load the browser with information about the business and allow access to related coupons and offers.

You don’t need a printed coupon for that to work.

  • CouponStud

    I noticed this statement of yours:

    “I am still amazed at how slow and plodding the offline world is in most sectors when it comes to seeing the competitive threat that online services is”

    I don’t think it’s valid. In other words, Valassis (the people in the lawsuit), create/own So, I think they are very aware of online services, being that they do both. In fact, News America also has an online presence.

    • That’s fair.

      How long will they hold on to the offline business that costs a considerable amount more to produce? And will that let an online only, more nimble competitor take the business of the future because they were too busy protecting a dying outlet?

    • Yes…but those coupon sites are dinosaurs compared to online only models like groupon or 8coupons. in the print space… is doing the best job of embracing digital…their site is good, they’re doing a good job syndicating coupons, the site has mobile version, iphone app and possibly an andriod app very soon. valpak actually works with google by syndicating their coupon content to their maps and business profiles. (btw…full disclosure…i work in a local valpak office).

      One advantage Valpak has over the 2 companies mentioned is that their print product is branded for recognition and advertised heavily on tv, etc… so folks will open it. and it, like google has the sales methodologies and capacity to serve both very small and very large businesses. As other print channels die off (cough… newspaper), valpak will continue to grow its print product while the other, weaker players in terms of product concept, selling system and brand recognition will fall by the wayside.

      Still, the day may come when we don’t print stuff like we don’t buy cd’s…and valpak also seems to be the best in the print space in terms of addressing this future reality.

      For now…our envelopes and websites are working better than ever before as consumer look to Valpak, and Valpak apps for local and national savings.
      .-= David´s last blog ..Valpak Announces Triple Environmental Certification =-.

  • Frank – Google also purchased online affiliate company Performics – futher validation as the great majority of coupon & Deal sites are paid via affiliates. See as an example.