[credit provider=”Dan Frommer, Business Insider”]
In a short span, Groupon’s daily deals have become the new big thing in online advertising, with countless copycats. Now Groupon is taking aim at the mobile industry, and could potentially become the next big mobile ad network, if it wanted to.
Already, the company has signed on one big mobile app maker, Loopt, to run real-time Groupon promotions in its app, triggered by proximity. If you’re a Loopt user near a “Groupon Now” deal that’s happening now, you’ll get a little push notification on your phone telling you about it. (See screenshots below.)
Now, Groupon is said to be near a deal with another huge app company, Foursquare. If that happens, Groupon will suddenly have millions of people — ad inventory! — to ping with its location-based deals.
It seems that if Groupon wanted to, it could eventually turn this into some sort of ad network platform that other app makers could join, the way they currently use ad networks like Google’s AdMob, Apple’s iAd, etc.
Groupon and rival LivingSocial are already buying up tons of mobile ad space, we’ve heard. But as we argued in March, if Groupon really wants to scale the “Groupon Now” product for the long term, starting an ad network of its own might be a good idea.
Instead of running tiny banner ads for car insurance companies and body wash, Groupon’s mobile ad network would be location-based, targeted, time-sensitive deals for cheap food nearby, yoga lessons, etc.
It’s actually a lot like the cliché “walk past a Starbucks, and get a coupon messaged to you” vision of mobile advertising that we’ve all heard about forever, but hopefully presented in a way that’s not annoying, and that’s actually useful.
Conceivably, it could be a much better business to broker ads and share revenue with app publishers, rather than buying ads from other networks.
And if Groupon’s ads could generate significantly more revenue for app publishers than typical mobile banner ads, they could become very popular, and quickly, Groupon could become a big player in mobile advertising.
We’ll see how these initial partnerships perform.
Meanwhile, here’s what the Loopt/Groupon tie-up looks like today: