How Apple Passbook & Google Wallet Can Help

Extreme couponers, put the scissors down and the fanny packs away, this is a digital intervention. Say good-bye to the ubiquitous dashed lines, bulging pocketbooks and embarrassing purse prospecting for small snippets of savings gold. The mobile wallet is here to save the day, and the best part is it’s easy for brands and advertisers to employ this latest technological convenience. Apple Passbook for iOS and Google Wallet for Android are the tree-saving answers that offer easy redemption, tracking and instant updates for consumers and vendors alike. Here is a handy guide to the basics of mobile wallet applications and what they bring to the ever-important mobile marketing sphere.

The E-Commerce Ecosystem

First, a little clarification on tech terminology; most of us already use digital wallets for e-commerce. Digital wallets include software for security and encryption of personal information required for any basic online transaction. Databases are included to prepopulate payment data for ease of future transactions. Think of digital wallets strictly in terms of payment. A mobile application from your bank or credit card company lives within the same e-commerce ecosystem as the digital wallet and works much the same way.

Then there are mobile wallet applications such as Apple Passbook and Google Wallet, which also live in this burgeoning ecosystem and utilize the above technology. However, both contribute the added bonus of storing and organizing various coupons, store loyalty cards, event tickets, boarding passes and other purchasing perks for use at future points of sale.

Android users were first to the party with the September 2011 launch of Google Wallet, which replaced Google Checkout as the tech giant’s primary mobile payment app. It has since expanded to include coupons, loyalty cards and tickets, and is also available for iOS users via download from the App Store. For Apple devotees, Passbook for iOS was introduced in the summer of 2012 and launched as a native app on iOS 6. It is currently the fourth most popular commerce app according to Business Insider and is growing more rapidly than its Google counterpart.

Smartphones have already replaced everyday items such as alarm clocks and maps; some people have even replaced TVs and desktops with this little wonder. So why not have the smartphone replace your coupon clutter?

How Do Mobile Wallets Work?

Images of gift cards available in iPhone wallet
It hasn’t been a meteoric rise for either mobile wallet application, but signs of progress are popping up – just look for the badge. Mobile sites such as already display Passbook and Google Wallet badges for easy click-to-save offers. However, retailers and airlines are making their apps Passbook/Google Wallet-enabled, which integrates the service directly. Visiting the App Store, iTunes or Google Play will reveal a sizable list of early brand adopters. Offers and tickets can also be sent via email or SMS/MMS and shared through social media via links.

Both platforms play matchmaker, hooking up vendor deals with nearby consumers using GPS and NFC technology. Google Wallet offers unlimited locations per offer while Passbook caps this number at 10 locations. Once a user has saved an offer or ticket, location-based messaging is available on both platforms to alert the consumer instantly of any updates. This is just the start of mobile wallet innovations. To whittle it down even further, Passbook is now integrating with iBeacons to alert deal hunters of offers as they enter the retail space, and can target consumers down to the department they are perusing.

How Can Brands/Advertisers Utilize Mobile Wallets?

Images of iPhone wallet on screen
The word “mobile” is uttered every second of every day within every ad agency and brand marketing department in the country. OK, this isn’t a real statistic, but it’s hard to deny the importance of mobile in advertising today. According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of adults keep a smartphone within arm’s reach, which means saving money is always a click away, and that equals redemption-driving greatness. Here’s an even better factoid: According to Business Insider, mobile coupon redemption is 10 times higher than traditional coupons. With smartphones becoming the center of every advertising campaign, it makes perfect sense to jump on the mobile wallet bandwagon. To capitalize on this trend, integration is as easy as A-P-I.

The first step is obtaining a private key from Passbook or Google Wallet, both of which are free to use for businesses and consumers. The second step is identifying the offer being passed to these applications. Each platform recognizes “types” of items being passed, such as coupon, loyalty card, ticket, etc. This determines the creative template required. Though creatively strict, the creative template is a package of image assets (usually a logo), background color selection and field data to create an offer or ticket interface for quick consumer digestion. Both apps recommend keeping content as light as possible.

Detailed developer guidelines for each type can be found on each application’s website to allow for implementation. Once setup is complete, the appropriate API passes the required assets and metadata to consumers. Finally, it’s important to know the transaction processes for offer redemption. A 2-D barcode (Aztec, QR and PDF417) can be utilized for businesses with optical scanners or a code for those without. From there, notifications are just a server update away.

The management of offers and the tracking of redemptions become much easier in this digital landscape. A common problem in advertising is fighting through the clutter. What easier way to do that than to avoid adding to the coupon-packed mailbox? Mobile wallets can be an easy, cost-effective addition to any mobile campaign.


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