Where Launches Opt-In Deal Alerts

Where, which has built its own local ad network for mobile devices, is now lauching "Where Deal Alerts." These are SMS-based coupons, offers and deals, that factor in user preferences (by shopping category) and location:

By opting into the service, customers can set up a user profile that will allow them to receive WHERE’s Deal Alerts via text message. Consumers simply select proximity, day of week, time of day, and content categories such as restaurants and shopping, and WHERE will automatically send coupons via SMS based on preferences.

Where Deal Alerts launch first on AT&T (though not yet on the iPhone) but will expand to other carriers over time. The one limitation of the system is that users have to specify a single time of day for delivery of the alerts. 

Deal alerts are set up from within the Where application but, as mentioned, come in the form of SMS notifications tied to location. Thus proximity to a QSR chain or particular merchant (at a particular time of day) would trigger delivery. Because Where has access to location from the carrier, users don't need to be in the Where app itself, "check in" or even be "online" to receive the offers.

From the Where application users configure deal alerts from within the coupon widget. Here's how the site describes the sign-up process:

  • Within the Coupons widget, I went to the preferences page to manage my alerts. First, I selected “Restaurants”, then “Mondays”, and finally “6:00am”. This set me up to receive offers in my area that were related to early morning food, and Bagel Station happened to have a deal.
  • That’s it. WHERE will automatically update you with a text message every week at the specified time if there’s a deal available in the area. The combination of category and location-relevancy with day and time makes Deal Alerts incredibly useful. For once, you’ll actually want the coupons you receive.

Where has aggregated lots of coupon inventory from multiple partners (e.g., Valassis, ValPak) to provide sufficient coverage to make the program interesting. 

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Placecast offers a conceptually similar program for the retail category with ShopAlerts, and individual marketers and stores are doing their own ad-hoc opt-in SMS-based loyalty marketing.

The Where program, however, is novel in several respects. And because it's category-based (after opt-in) it can function as a new customer acquisition program and not exclusively as a mobile loyalty vehicle.