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How The Groupon API Let Them Fail in Mobile

How The Groupon API Let Them Fail in Mobile

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After continual rough quarters, much merchant controversy, and funky accounting, Andrew Mason is out today at Groupon.

“I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today.” – Andrew Mason

Groupon hit on and started many of the trends that mobile marketers are chasing today. They heavily targeted local and location based advertising, they thought small businesses at scale would be their savior, and were willing to buy as many users as possible to create leverage with brand advertisers.

Groupon then called themselves a mobile first company investing in iOS and Android apps and making sure their bread and butter emails were mobile friendly. They cranked up the daily push notifications and added nearby deals in their native apps. Groupon also later tried to follow a closed integrated mobile payments and hardware point-of-sale system down the same path as Square and others to create merchant lock-in.

Where Groupon didn’t open a runway for themselves was in their API strategy investing in a distributed mobile ecosystem. For years building a platforms meant being THE PLATFORM, but buying your way to market dominance is not a sustainable option. The internal Groupon API was never stable enough for outside development and the Groupon V2 API is still a Commission Junction link platform.

As a mobile app developer working in the location space and wanting to include local offers, integrating with Groupon as your deals platform was never a seamless user experience. Groupon either wanted an user acquisition referral and didn’t extend the actual deal buying, such as the Groupon user account information and payments into the API. Instead the flow pushed users to re-login through a mobile webpage and then figure how how to put in their payment information. Ugly UX stuff that stunted the way other mobile developers were able to potentially partner with Groupon.

If Groupon, LivingSocial, or any other deals provider that is making mass promises to put customers in-store and bring walkthrough traffic, who cares where the mobile conversion comes from if it truly converts and is integrated on top of your platform?