The problem has always been tracking that promotional activity directly to a sale. While panel surveys and EPOS will show if there is increased uptake of the product, there can be other factors at play, from stock availability to the weather.
So the launch of a new website, beforeIbuy.co.uk, is bound to interest retailers and FMCG brands who are trying to get a clearer cause-and-effect view of their marketing effort. An extension of an existing online printable coupon service, it aims to exchange interaction with video, games and other content for a sample or money-off voucher.
By creating a SP marketplace in this way, each consumer becomes trackable and their redeemed coupons a direct indicator of behavioural change. The site’s owners argue that the consumer is now so determined to get extra value out of every transaction that brands have little choice but to play their game.
If true, it opens up the possibility of a genuine win-win situation. Consumers get something extra in return for changing brand allegiance, while marketers gain greater transparency about what the return on their investment really is. For years, promoters have had to rely on indirect or opaque indicators. Now digital channels and the data they bring could change all that.
It could also level up a game that had started to be played too much in the consumer’s favour. Promotional offers have long been a staple of marketing. When they moved online, it originally offered a stealth approach to discreetly target certain groups. Then those consumer got blogging and told the whole world about money-off opportunities, forcing promoters to make the same offers available to all.
By formalising these exchanges, beforeIbuy might also dilute the power of affiliates and aggregator sites who take money out of the marketing budget in return for generating traffic. A destination site could generate enough gravity in its own right and return much of the control that has been lost to the Internet.
That is a lot to ask from making someone sit through a 15-second ad just to get a 15p coupon. But if that discount does generate a change in behaviour and buying, brands will think it a significant gain.