Michael Wolff tried. We even told you how optimistic we were about the “new” AdWeek. Alas, slightly offbeat, cultural-centric articles about the advertising industry hold no flame to the repetitive daily tripe about social media, search engine marketing, and mobile apps.
AdWeek will plod on, with its “journalists” attempting to mimic Wolff's style. Such as the article posted yesterday by Erin Griffith. A backslapping, suck-up pean to Coupons.com that told us nothing we didn’t know – yes, it has attracted lots of VC money; yes, it is valued at $1 billion; and yes, it will go IPO. So?
“Coupons.com is the silent, cash-rich killer of the once-fat Sunday paper ad section.”
Killer? That would be news to the FSI industry, which still commands 85%+ of coupon distribution in the U.S. [source: Valassis]. As Joe Jackson would sing: “You can read it in the Sunday Papers.”
Wolff’s style, sans facts.
“Redemption rates on old-school paper coupons [sorry to interrupt – but see the 85%+ share for “old school” above] have fallen from a sad [Wolffish] 1.6% to an even sadder [Wolffish] 0.6%...Coupons.com’s rate is more than 18%.”
Since the article included a faux interview with Coupons.com's CEO, there was no way to validate this crazy number, I guess.
Here’s how newspapers do it. Count all the 350 billion coupons printed and distributed per year. Denominator. Take the 2.1 billion coupons collected at retail. Numerator. Presto = 0.6% redemption.
What would be the equivalent calculation for Coupons.com? Take all the coupons posted on its site, regardless of whether a site visitor looks at all of them. Denominator. Same process as the numerator above.
The only way to get 18% is to seriously undercount impressions – by claiming only the coupons a user downloads (which would be equivalent to “clipping”) – or by claiming downloads as redemptions.
Net net: The 18% coupon redemption rate for Coupons.com is complete bullshit.
We’d welcome Erin Griffith into our Research Hall of Sham, except she didn’t DO any research.