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The Times Jumps on the E-Coupon Bandwagon

Emily Sackett

The New York Times launched its high-end daily deals site last Thursday, manning up against an industry which seems to be crawling out of its infancy day by day.

Market-leader Groupon has made headlines over the past couple years, bringing the commodity of the coupon online and to consumer’s inboxes via a location-based strategy. Eventually Groupon and its competitors opened the door on its single-sight offerings (many younger start-ups still only offer deals in top cities) and started marketing to families and those who lived “uptown” or “downtown”, further targeting the bargain-hungry web surfer on the other end of the internet connection.

The booming niche has spread now, and The Times is jumping on board. The Times’ new microsite, TimesLimited, resembles Gilt Groupe’s Gilt City in its more elite offerings, for example a $325 semi-private cooking lesson from Mario Batali protégés hosted in the popular cafeteria style eatery, Eataly.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported earlier this month that newspapers were slow to the game, another example of how the traditional media industry is lagging behind social and digital media and (many think) in danger of eventual extinction. The article points out that the introduction of e-coupons and offers should have been a natural adoption for an industry that already has established relationships with local advertisers. Perhaps better late than never, The Times is now on board, coincidently only a short time after the Company made an aggressive move against its digital readers by initiating a paywall favoring print subscribers. Also in recent headlines, industry-leader Groupon closed a massive round of funding and Gilt Groupe hit the coveted $1 billion valuation.

Some call the daily deals industry a bubble that is about to burst. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether this move leads to more regional and local adopters with hyper-targeted audiences. CJP

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