March 30, 2011, 4:23 PM

Valpak augments its paper coupons with an app

The company uses an augmented reality app to display coupons for nearby merchants.

Lead Photo

The junaio app displays Valpak coupons for use at nearby merchants.

Valpak, the company behind those familiar direct mail coupon books offering deals at local merchants, is trying a new channel for delivering discounts—mobile.

Valpak is now offering its coupons via the junaio augmented reality app. Consumers who download the free app to an iPhone or Android device and select “Local Coupons by Valpak” will be able to access discounts to use at businesses near their current locations. The app launches the smartphone’s camera and uses a device’s GPS functionality to overlay on the camera view a set of icons that display the available Valpak coupons in the vicinity as the consumer holds her phone up and scans her surroundings. The app scans for deals between 5 feet and 20 miles away and the coupons and offers pop up on the user’s mobile screen.

“Providing Valpak content on the junaio platform extends the reach our advertisers achieve when they purchase Valpak advertising,” says Nancy Cook, vice president of new media business development at Valpak/Cox Target Media. “Our content distribution strategy is to be everywhere consumers look for savings.”

In addition to using the junio app to deliver coupons, Valpak also offers apps for devices running the iPhone, Android, Palm, BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone operating systems. It also recently launched a daily deals site and offers SMS, or short message service, texting for advertisers.

Valpak is just one of a growing number of companies looking to tap into location-based mobile deals. ILoop Mobile, which provides mobile marketing programs for such companies as Coca-Cola and carmaker Lexus, is working on a mobile loyalty program called SlingShop that offers consumers a map of deals from nearby merchants and allows them to choose which ones they wish to receive deals from. The forthcoming iLoop app also uses augmented reality and GPS to notify shoppers of discounts and rewards on a map presented through their smartphone’s camera. ILoop says its app will also offer a loyalty program, enabling merchants to offer rewards and discounts to consumers the more they shop via the app.

ILoop plans to build its base of local deals through the contacts it has established through its partnership with Comcast Spotlight, the local advertising sales division of the cable TV and Internet provider. Comcast Spotlight uses iLoop for its MobilExtra program which combines cable advertising with text message coupons.

Daily deal powerhouse LivingSocial earlier this month began piloting location-based, time-sensitive mobile deals to consumers. The program, called Instant Deals, is being tested in Washington, DC, and is designed to help merchants attract traffic during slow times. For example, a dinner restaurant might try to increase its sales during a slow afternoon by offering a special deal between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., LivingSocial says.

The juniao app that Valpak is using for its program is from augmented reality technology firm metaio. EBay also is using the juniao app to deliver its eBay classifieds listings.

A mobile consumer who downloads the junaio app can see eBay classifieds listings near her location at any given moment. As a consumer walks down a street, the app will use her smartphone’s camera and GPS technology to determine her location and show her brief listings of items or services available nearby that are listed on eBay classifieds. As she walks, the listings pop up on the smartphone screen via the camera view as small blurbs with pictures.

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