Orange County Business Journal

Daily Deal Sites Join Rush for Local Appeal, Revenue

MEDIA: Groupon spurs crop of lookalikes; Register’s record day Kari Hamanaka Sunday, May 15, 2011

Earlier this year the company raised $950 million in financing for continued expansion internationally and technology improvements.

Traditional media and marketing companies here are dabbling in daily deal sites.

Brea-based direct marketing company PennySaverUSA.com, part of San Antonio, Texas-based marketing company Harte-Hanks Inc., started its SaverTime deals site in April.

Marketing efforts ramped up this month and will continue into June with advertisements on Facebook, other websites and the radio.

“We have always viewed ourselves as PennySaver, the champion of the little guy when it comes to businesses,” said PennySaverUSA and SaverTime President Loren Dalton.

PennySaver, known for its weekly print publication mailed to homes throughout California, sees its daily deals site as an extension of its longstanding focus on local businesses.

“We asked, ‘what can we do to take this idea and make it one that can work better for small businesses?’” Dalton said. “When we saw Groupon, we didn’t want to jump in and do what all their competitors are doing.”

Local Focus

PennySaver hopes to distinguish itself from the crowd by making SaverTime as local as possible.

For example, SaverTime comes in three OC versions: north, central and south.

“One of the biggest complaints about Groupon and the main competition is that the deals may be great deals, but they’re just so far away,” Dalton said.

The Orange County Register offers daily deals through its OC Deals section on the newspaper’s website. It’s taking a similar approach, said Director of Interactive Sales Kyla Rodriguez.

The Register, part of Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc., has learned a lot in the year since it started its daily deals site.

“Because this is so competitive, consumers nowadays are really looking for a good deal,” Rodriguez said. “We’re having to be more creative about how we structure our deals, so it’s more lucrative for consumers.”

The Register’s site caters mainly to local businesses but also has national chain deals. Its largest advertiser has been Minneapolis-based chicken wing chain Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.

“It depends on who the large chain is,” Rodriguez said. “Looking at competitor sites, I’ve seen large national clothing retailers try it. For them it makes sense, but for a grocery store it may not.”

The Register has been redesigned. One key change: an end to a requirement for a minimum number of buyers in order for a deal to be offered.

The Register still is experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.

It scored a big hit in March when it ran a deal on its site offering round-trip tickets to Catalina Island for $34.

The deal led to 5,457 sales in one day. Revenue from the Catalina ticket sales combined with other deals on the site for a daily record of $188,000.

The deal worked because it was the first time it was being offered with a departure out of Newport Beach and fit the Register deal site’s target audience. It also skewed to a “slightly older demographic that’s more family-based,” Rodriguez said.

Up next for the Register’s deal site? Geo-targeting, or sending deals to consumers based on their geographic location.

“I do think it’s going to get pretty competitive, but the newspaper will have—in our market—a piece of the pie and we want to make sure this is a good platform for our advertisers and our users,” Rodriguez said.

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