Time for an Ad: How Groupon and Starbucks are doing things the right way around

Groupons new ad … geotargeted realtime promotions never sounded so straight-forward

Priscilla, who sends tweets from @thoughtcloud, (thanks Priscilla) pointed me in the direction the above video from Groupon, which – as she neatly points out – can be described as mobile + scheduled coupons + mobile micropayments = awesomeness.

the whole proposition, of aggregating local promotions which are geotargeted and delivered in realtime, is in many ways the culmination of a host of recent developments in the mobile space…  a culmination that Groupon – with a view to IPOness – are keen to amplify as much as possible.  it's for perhaps this reason that the company – which has been built from a connections perspective hereto on peer-demanded communications and word of mouth, has put together … an ad.

both regular readers will be familiar with this blog's attitude towards 'the ad' – that 20th Century invention which came to be synonymous with advertising.  our continued reliance on the broadcast interruption model that forms the media basis for adverts remains one of the key limiting factors in brands and marketers embracing a communications age of user-centricity, community and utility.

but Groupon's effort is perhaps a reminder that 'the ad' does have it's place in a 21st Century communications ecosystem.  I can't imagine a neater or more compelling way to communicate realtime geotargeted promotions and offers…  a simple, neat encapsulation of a message and a reminder of what made 'the ad' so predominant in 20th Century marketing communications.

and Groupon aren't alone.  Starbucks have for several years now adopted a community and reward-based marketing approach.  this blog noted in April 2009 that Starbucks were offering free syrup shots for life when you signed up to a Starbucks Card … why?  because – and this was a direct paraphrase from the Bucks' call centre – the brand was looking to what it could, given the (then) current economic climate, for its existing customers.

the last two years have seen a plethora of offers and bonuses for existing customers be deployed in store.  all of which are communicated on regular emails that I'm happy to receive.  like this one that I got today…

Starbucks_frap_mail_2one of the regular eDM's I receive from the Bucks

the mail contains the usual offers and updates, but also invites me to 'watch their new ad' and note that "We're excited that Frappuccino® is on the big screen" …which struck me as an unusual turn of phrase.  excited that they're on the screen.  they're Starbucks.  that pretty big company that turned themselves around with a focus on customer service and involvement in their brand.  why the excitement over an ad?

Starbucks_frap_ad_2

Starbucks_frap_ad.jpg

Starbucks_frap_ad_3 Starbucks' have a new frappuccino ad … and they're excited

but I guess that it's precisely that focus on daily delivery of quality and service that makes their presence in the broadcast stream an exception.  it's a rarity and therefore a novelty for the brand.  even one as big as Starbucks.  and the way I see it both Groupon and Starbucks have this exactly the right way around…

for them, broadcast ads aren't the rule, they are the exception.  and those ads are therefore all the better and more valuable for it.  not for these brands the shout at the millions whether they're listening or not.  not for these brands is broadcast interruption the modus operandi.

rather, daily delivery of value and service and utility and innovation … and when there is something genuinely new, or different, or compelling, they permit themselves to broadcast and interrupt.  only then.  conversation first and as default.  adverts when, and only when, what they have to say is of sufficient value to those on the receiving end.  if only all brands had their priorities in this so very correct order…

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