Scoutmob has partnered with Google's Niantic Labs in order to integrate its free mobile deals with Field Trip, letting people receive offers, discounts and freebies from businesses nearby.
Field Trip was released by Niantic Labs in September 2012. After installation, Field Trip runs in the background and exposes information without the need for searching or browsing. Field Trip users can set the type and number of alerts they want to receive. The app then automatically delivers information about a location when the phone comes within range. App users can see historical facts, architectural highlights, dining and entertainment options and other things that are "cool and unique."
At launch, Field Trip had an Offers & Deals tab powered by Google Offers. This deal replaces that content with Scoutmob's feed.
Scoutmob works directly with merchants to set up the service. It pushes deals to subscribers to the free service when they come within range. Users don’t have to buy a coupon or pay in advance; they simply show their phones to the merchant to receive the discount at the register.
"Most decisions you make locally are made impulsively. This reduces all the friction to the consumer. The consumer doesn't have to do anything except go to a business they see on the map," says Scoutmob co-founder Michael Tavani.
Scoutmob charges merchants a flat fee per redemption, usually around $2.00. It invoices merchants directly and collects the money from them.
"We realized we would have to drive in measurable customers. That was the only way to make money off local merchants," Tavani says.
Three-year-old Scoutmob has similar distribution deals in place with Foursquare and Foodspotting, and it's also available as a standalone Android app. It pays distribution partners a revenue share.
Tavani says that Niantic is using Scoutmob to understand how effective geo-fencing is for pushing information. "Everyone trying to figure out the future of push, how to get it out in front of people in different ways," he says. "There still needs to be a lot of testing of what's the right mix, what's the right balance."
Scoutmob is available for only a few major cities. The service depends on local editors to create content and local ad sales people in each location. "Local is not scalable," Tavani admits. "You need a heavy ground game. We can't have locally relevant information in San Francisco by writing here in Atlanta. You can't get the best businesses in San Francisco to work with you over a cell phone."
Scoutmob has raised $5 million and reports close to 2 million registered users. He adds: "Our consumer growth is scalable. We're trying to build a practical and pragmatic local business and hang around."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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