DigitalMoses: Extreme Arbitraging?

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DM CONFIDENTIAL – If you don’t watch television, there is a good chance you will not have heard of this new show. To learn that it is a reality show probably wouldn’t come as a surprise, though. We watch many shows, reality and non-, but certain reality shows we just can’t resist. This one is quickly becoming one of them.

You might not think a show about couponing could make for good viewing pleasure, but “Extreme Couponing” does something few other shows do — provide us a window into the performance marketers constituency. If you want to understand who clicks on ads and who completes forms, who buys virtual currency with hard cash, it’s this audience. As great as the show is, though, we were on the edge of our seat during one of the commercials. It was for a coupon site.

Grocery/coupon related offers aren’t anything new. During the heyday of incentivized offers, gift cards for groceries were quite common. But, we don’t see that many of them today. We just came across one that markets itself as, “one of the longest running grocery card giveaway programs in existence, having served millions of people till date.”

It’s set up exactly like a gas card offer we profiled three years ago, and it’s one of the few incentivized doorway sites still running. The fact that some of these sites can spend money at all is amazing, given their relative lack of value and sophistication. And that’s on search. Seeing an ad during television is a different story.

As you can see from these two frames from the commercial, it almost reads like an ad that is too good to be true.

It comes as no surprise that we would go and check out the website. The biggest question in our head was what type of site would we find? With companies like Groupon and LivingSocial paying a decent amount per email address, would we, for example, come upon a doorway page for them? Would it be an incentivized site? More than anything, we were hoping to uncover a site so special that it chose to advertise on television to avoid being quickly copied by others.

Heading to the site, here is what we found:

What we found was almost nothing. We found an index page that looked like some SEO experiment. There was no real call to action, just prettied up links to their other sites. That was certainly novel because it means the site can’t capitalize off the traffic to its homepage without people going to another page.

Here is what an example interior page looks like:

The interior pages are basically Made For AdSense. They aren’t quite “Made For LivingSocial,” but they are close. Most of them have a host/post Living Social ad on the page. If anything, we wonder why they aren’t played up more. On this page, it makes sense as Living Social doesn’t offer coupons related to cats.

Performance marketers will also notice another element on the page besides AdSense and LivingSocial.

Clicking there, takes you offsite to:

In a bit of irony, one of the final destinations from going to Coupons.Info is heading off to Coupons.com. The irony comes from the commercial itself which makes sure to say “Remember. Coupons dot info, NOT dot com.”

Regardless of the ultimate value, we do like seeing new (legal) risks being taken. They don’t get harder than television, but many don’t create bigger moats.

1 COMMENT

  1. Whatever the reason these printable coupons or “Printapons” exist and it is valid to use them, although it can skew the marketing research for which they were intended.

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