January 28, 2011, 2:45 PM

LivingSocial gains on Groupon, at least for one week

A record-setting Amazon gift card offer helped LivingSocial’s traffic rise 82% last week.

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LivingSocial last week sold a daily deal site record 1.3 million Amazon.com discount vouchers, which helped the daily deal site’s traffic for the week ending Jan. 22 rise 82.3% to 3.1 million unique visitors from 1.7 million the previous week, according to Experian Hitwise.

Roughly 85% of the vouchers for Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, have already been redeemed, according to a LivingSocial spokeswoman.

The Amazon deal surpassed Groupon’s most popular offer, Gap Inc.’s (No. 23) discount of $50 in Gap merchandise for $25. That offer sold approximately 441,000 vouchers in August.

Traffic for Groupon, the current daily deal site traffic leader, in the same period was 6.2 million, a 19.5% dip from 7.7 million unique visitors the previous week. That’s a marked shift from December when U.S. visits to Groupon outnumbered those to LivingSocial by a factor of 10 to one.

Moreover, LivingSocial’s traffic nearly matched that of Groupon on the day the Amazon.com vouchers were offered, Jan. 19. LivingSocial had roughly 835,000 unique visitors, compared with 891,000 for Groupon.

Facebook was the largest source of traffic to LivingSocial, accounting for 23% of visits, on Jan. 19. The previous day Facebook accounted for 18% of the site’s traffic. That’s not surprising as Facebook is a key part of LivingSocial’s marketing strategy. LivingSocial rewards a consumer who spreads the word with a free voucher when three friends buy the offer too. 

For the week Facebook accounted for 19.2% of LivingSocial’s visits, a slight dip from 20.4% the previous week.

A LivingSocial spokeswoman says a 33.3% increase in subscribers this month helped traffic along. In January the daily deal site has added 5 million subscribers, increasing its base to 20 million.

These numbers show that the race for dominance in the daily deal space is far from over, a Hitwise spokesman says.

The Amazon deal marked the first instance of Amazon using its massive reach—130 million consumers have shopped on Amazon sites in the past year—to boost LivingSocial since Amazon announced a $175 million investment in the daily deal site in December.

Hitwise data show that LivingSocial’s U.S. visits last week were two and a half times greater than during the week ending Dec. 4, which is when Amazon announced its investment in the site. Groupon’s traffic increased 10% over the same period. However, a Hitwise spokesman says it remains to be seen if the Amazon lift reflects a long-term shift or a one-time bump.

The LivingSocial spokeswoman says the Amazon deal is leading to return visits.

“It was an amazing deal that people could take advantage of,” she says. “Since then we’ve seen people come back to LivingSocial and buy local offers.”

The spokeswoman says more Amazon-related offers may be in the works. “It’s all about finding what the really exciting offers for all our members,” she says. “We’re exploring all sorts of options.” 


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