February 7, 2014 Last Updated 9:13 am

Couponers like RetailMeNot jump into void left by newspapers

Digital couponer reports a 55 percent jump in revenue, with 15 percent coming from mobile

The opportunity was there, staring them in the face. With the launch of the iPhone, and in 2008 the introduction of third party apps, suddenly newspapers were back in the game, with a golden opportunity to once again go after local advertising, both retail and classifieds. With newspapers launching their first mobile apps, the chance was there to incorporate local advertising, using geolocation, to deliver coupons, discounts and other forms of advertising.

If newspapers didn’t fill the obvious void that was opening up, others would – and boy did they.

Retailmenot-iPhone5-lgOne of the best of the new group of digital marketers is RetailMeNot

“Our objective in 2013 was to extend our leadership position in the digital coupon marketing category, and we believe based on our strong financial results, we have succeeded in this goal,” the company says in their earnings statement, released yesterday. The company reported a 55 percent gain in revenue, to $78.5 million – still a small number compared to many new digital advertising companies, and only about equal to the amount of print ad revenue the NYT reported decreases in its latest quarter.

Of its advertising, RetailMeNot said it recorded $11.7 million from mobile, a 179 percent gain over the same quarter last year.

If you are not familiar with the RetailMeNot mobile app you really should download it. Users can not help but be reminded of its presence on their phones. When a shopper passes a major mall the app pings, telling the user that there are coupon offers waiting for them. Its use of geolocation services found on smartphones is the perfect way to present shoppers with retail advertising. It is so logical, so obvious, that most digital media pros have been beating this drum for at least the past five years.

“Our mission is to be the number one place where consumers go to find the best offers, whether shopping online or at a store,” RetailMeNot management said. “We have created a marketplace for retailers to drive sales by showcasing their best offers to consumers.”

The way companies like RetailMeNot is growing is simply employing the tactic that newspapers and magazines have used for years, direct customer sales. For RetailMeNot, it is not worth pursuing local retail, but to go after national brands. But the idea is still very familiar, present marketing messages locally, something newspapers were once experts at, but have seemingly abandoned in their rejection of the ad model and adoption of paid content models.

“A key to our success has been our ability to invest in building our customer experience and brand awareness and maximizing the various channels in which consumers engage with RetailMeNot. During the past few quarters, we’ve accelerated our investments to develop a more direct relationship with consumers, and it’s working as we see an increasing volume of traffic coming directly to our websites,” the company said.

If the revenue growth of companies like RetailMeNot does not scare traditional media people, RetailMeNot’s ability to grow relationships with both segments (users and advertisers) of its users should.

“Over one-third of our content comes from our passionate, engaged community of users that contribute offers to our marketplace daily. This user generated content, or UGC, helps drive our significant scale. Our users embrace the true community that RetailMeNot provides, from chat, to comment areas, to voting and of course top rankings for those superstar contributors,” the company said.

“We now cover over 6,000 mall or shopping outlet locations geo-fenced through our mobile solutions platform. The breadth of our geo-targeting capabilities, which we believe cover all major shopping areas in the US, and the size of our mobile applications user base, provides significant reach for retailers targeting mobile consumers.”