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    Google Doubles Down on Digital Coupons

    Adds Incentive Targeting to its Existing Zavers Offering

    Just over a year after buying digital coupon solutions company Zave Networks, Google, Inc. has acquired Incentive Targeting in an effort to strengthen its existing digital coupon offerings.

    “The acquisition of Incentive Targeting is really Google doubling down on trying to provide a great digital coupon platform to retailers and manufacturers,” Alexander Vogenthaler, Google’s lead product manager, digital coupons told Progressive Grocer. “Google is very committed to digital couponing, and to providing digital marketing solutions to retailers and CPG companies. Adding Incentive Targeting into the mix ensures that we have the absolute best technology platforms for retailers that deliver the highest quality, most relevant content for the shoppers at their stores.”

    Grocers like Bashas' have worked with Cambridge, Mass.-based Incentive Targeting to create and measure loyalty and digital coupon programs.  The vendor was behind the grocery industry’s first Groupon deal that was integrated into shopper loyalty cards, which Big Y launched last July.

    Now, as part of Google, Incentive Targeting will be an integral part of a tool aimed at driving retailer loyalty, spend, and trip frequency. “If you look on the supplier’s side, manufacturers want to be able reach groups of shoppers with high quality offers, but today, they can only do that with retailers that have a solution like Incentive Targeting or who have the resources internally to do really complex loyalty program analysis,” said Vogenthaler. “Incentive Targeting combined with Zave allows us to take that burden off of the retailer and work to get them highly relevant content from CPG manufacturers without having to constantly go back to the retailers for more loyalty program analysis.”

    What retailers can expect from Google’s integration of Incentive Targeting and Zave offerings, according to Google, is a complete package of retailer couponing and promotion technology that allows the retailer to create, source, execute and distribute offers -- whether they are general offers or offers that are specific to select groups of retailers.

    “What we are looking to do is connect the dots for the consumer,” said Spencer Spinnell, director, retail partnerships for Google. “When a mom is planning her day or researching information on Google for her family, she's looking for and discovering deals. We want to very easily enable a grocer to service that individual, drive the consumer to their website, and more importantly, deliver that consumer value in real-time in the store.”

    These functions are not just limited to websites, and can be applied to mobile apps as well so the shopper discovers offers while shopping the store.

    In addition to more relevant offers, the acquisition will result in the face value of these digital coupons rising, said Google. “By adding Incentive Targeting, we’ll be able to source higher quality, more relevant offers,” said Vogenthaler. “And since they are more in line with the manufacturers' shopper marketing goals, manufacturers will be willing to fund offers with higher face values.”

    Nothing changes for existing Incentive Targeting customers, according to Ben Sprecher, co-founder of the company. “We are making sure to continue to support them exactly as we have been in the past,” he said. “For Incentive Targeting, we'll continue to do what we do for our customers, just with the great backing and additional resources that Google brings.”

    Google’s long-term goal is to create a very measureable shopper marketing channel for the product manufacturers. “If you are a product manufacturer, and you are looking at all of the different ways in which you can spend your marketing buget -- you can spend it on local TV, local radio, circulars, coupons, digital coupons -- our long term vision here is, the product manufacturers and consumers and retailers will be best served from promotional money from the product manufacturers going toward the measureable channel,” noted Google’s Vogenthaler. “If I put money into a 50 percent off diaper coupon, I want to see that it drove redemptions within my targeted set of consumers and that they kept coming back after wards and kept purchasing diapers once the campaign was over. And that's exactly what Incentive targeting lets us do. And the opportunity there for retailers is that as we grow these measurable marketing channels, the budgets and the dollars shift from local TV, local radio, local print circulation and paper coupons into digital and because it's measureable, that sucks in more of the manufacturers’ budgets for the grocers and for their consumers.”

    While Zave and eventually Incentive Targeting tools can be used along with Google Wallet, Google pointed out that they are completely separate offerings and can be used individually. “They have interoperability, so they can play with each other, but there is absolutely no dependency,” said Spinnell. “A retailer can deploy Google Wallet across their enterprise, they can deploy Zavers, they can work them together, or separately.”

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