Groupon’s Sean Smyth on the new ‘Partner Network’

Groupon has been pushing hard to upgrade its merchant base from one-time partners to permanent clients with monthly sales goals. The latest initiative? A “Partner Network” for publishers willing to highlight Groupon deals in return for a piece of the action ((10-12 percent for local deals, and lower amounts for Getaways and Goods). Partners get access to Groupon’s Open APIs and full reporting.

The way Groupon sees The Net is as “the first proprietary local e-commerce affiliate marketing platform designed to help online publishers better monetize their online presence.” Initial publishers include a number of mid-level traffic sites, including Ebates, Upromise by Sallie Mae, Dealnews, Fat Wallet, ShopAtHome.com and Slickdeals.net. Small publishers, especially bloggers, are also being targeted.

Groupon has previously worked with newspapers to flesh out their deals network. There are also other deals networks that let partners pick and choose deals, such as Local Offer Network, Analog Analytics and 8Coupons. But VP of Global Partner Marketing Sean Smyth says the primary difference here is that the syndication of deals represents a Groupon-branded experience. It’s also integrated throughout Groupon’s international marketplace, which now includes 30 countries.

Smyth says the Network represents a “pull” strategy with many opportunities for larger media companies, as well as smaller publishers. “It is one common API for everyone to go to,” he notes It also enables deals to be retargeted. Consumers might pick up a deal on a restaurant blog, for instance, after ignoring it the first time on Groupon.

“We are using our data for 10,000 partners today,” says Smyth. “Next year, we’ll have 100,000.”

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