Friday, September 02, 2011

Give me just a little more time

And my love will surely grow.. Yes, that’s the lyric to a song from the 70s by The Chairmen of the Board. But it’s how I feel about so many location-based, time-based, relevant-for-me advertising.

Like a lot of people, I’ve signed up to my localised Groupon, Living Social and other services and it feels like I’m being bombarded by time-based deals. I’ve also recently signed up to Moshogo, which tells me about events going on my local area. A useful service in theory. But they’re all making the same fundamental mistake. They’re not giving me enough time.

With Moshogo, I receive a daily mobile-optimised email of what’s on today in my local area. And it’s really comprehensive and well put together. But by the time I read the email – even if it’s first thing in the morning, it’s simply too late. I don’t have time to get myself organised and friends organised to go and do something that starts in an hour’s time – no matter how amazing and how relevant it is for me. I probably need a selection of what’s on highlights twice a week and then I click through to the site for more. Or maybe I need to have the choice to hone the selection even further so it’s truly personalised.

Like a lot of folks, I do love a bargain. So in theory, Groupon style deals should work for me. But it doesn’t. With Groupon and its clones, it’s the same. I’m worn out with being shouted at as to what to buy right now. I’m just not that impulsive when it comes to shopping and making decisions about what to buy and what not to buy. I don’t think I ever was. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Back in the mists of mobile time at the start of the century, I worked at a start-up called ZagMe where we sent text message coupons to shoppers at Lakeside and Bluewater shopping malls (the two largest in Europe at the time). These text messages were offer-based and sent while shoppers were actually out shopping. (Yes, I know. We were at least 10 years ahead of our time. We learned that one the hard way). We experimented a lot with timing of offers. And we learned two key things.

Firstly, the offers we sent as people arrived at the shopping mall were the ones most likely to be redeemed.

Secondly, time-based offers had to give the shoppers enough time to redeem the coupon without them having to charge across the shopping centre to meet the deadline of the offer. So offers that were time-limited to an hour were a no-no, but offers that could be redeemed any time that day were more successful.

So Groupon, Living Social, and those of their ilk. Please, give me just a little more time.