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Valassis Audible Offers

Remember the quaint old days of interactive media, when we were promised our lives would be transformed by using a TV remote to order a pizza, buy the clothing worn by our favorite TV characters… and then maybe order some more pizza?

Well, times have changed. Now, interactive media is effortless – all you have to do is activate an app, and your TV or radio will send you coupons automatically, which you can then redeem without even having to think about it.

That’s the promise of Valassis Audible Offers, a new platform formally announced last week by the company that publishes the RedPlum coupon inserts. Valassis describes it as “the first advertising technology and media solution that enables advertisers to transform their broadcast TV, radio and YouTube advertising into targeted and scalable distribution channels for digital offers.”

What that means is, you could find yourself watching or listening to a commercial in your home, in your car or on your mobile device, and imperceptible audio signals embedded in the ad will transmit a coupon for the product being advertised to your phone. The coupon will then be automatically inserted into a mobile wallet, like Apple or Google Wallet. And the next time you shop, and pay with your mobile wallet, the coupon will be applied – no clipping required.

Valassis Audible Offers is not the first platform to transmit coupons via audio signals. But it is the first that aims to make it a seamless experience from start to finish. Other companies’ ultrasonic coupons appear on your phone in the form of an image file or a link to a website. But Valassis Audible Offers can communicate directly with an app, and result in a digital coupon being added straight to your payment account, without any bar code to scan, or a link that you need to remember to open at checkout.

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Valassis says its new offers are also an attention-grabber. How many times do you simply tune out when a commercial comes on? Valassis cites research that says nearly half of all smartphone users browse and shop on their mobile devices while watching TV. So advertisers using its new platform can deliver their messages and offers straight to the screen you’re watching, instead of only on the screen you’re not.

“With Valassis Audible Offers, it’s now great to have a consumer on their device while an advertisement is airing,” Valassis CEO Victor Nichols said. “We are making TV and radio advertising multi-purpose at a very low cost.”

Of course, a lot has to happen before you can start taking advantage of these new offers. First, advertisers have to start offering them. Then, retail and shopping apps will need to be able to receive the audio signals – so if your favorite apps start requesting new permissions, seeking access to your mobile device’s microphone, you’ll know why. And then, you’ll need to be a mobile wallet user if you want to be able to automatically redeem the coupons that have found their way into your phone.

Audible Offers is opt-in only, so you won’t get coupons sent to your phone unless you grant permission first. Even so, the platform raises the prospect of unwanted coupons cluttering up your phone and your mobile wallet. But Valassis says the coupons can be targeted to people who are most likely to be interested. If you’ve registered with a particular app and provided your age, gender, address and other personal information when signing up, Audible Offers can use that data to determine whether you get a coupon – or someone else does.

For years, it’s been predicted that all paper coupons will inevitably go digital. In the meantime, though, at least some paper coupons are going audible. Just not the snip-snipping of your scissors, or the ca-ching of the cash register that you’re used to hearing – this time, it seems, savings will be singing a whole new tune.

Image source: Valassis

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