Microsoft and Living Social Strategic Partnership

Microsoft and Living Social Strategic Partnership

Partnerships has always been a strong theme, not only in this industry, but also throughout my career. So when I notice an opportunity to discuss partnerships that may make sense for this industry, I will go ahead and do so.

I was traveling over the holidays and noticed a Microsoft Surface booth, tradeshow style, at an airport I was using. I never had the chance to use the Surface and this seemed like a good time. So here I was playing around with Windows 8, looking at and being impressed by the Surface, its keyboard, design, and capabilities (way more business friendly in terms of producing content rather than consuming content as compared to the iPad btw). Then I noticed something germane to this industry; Microsoft Surface was promoting deals by Living Social right on the main app page and in Microsoft Surface marketing sheets and hand outs. Really? Yup.

So how is this relevant or even remotely worth mentioning? Glad you asked.

  1. Microsoft chooses its partners very carefully. If they decided to promote another company’s product or service right on the operating system of Surface and in the marketing materials for Surface, then Microsoft believes that promoting “deals” attracts consumers.
  2. A closer partnerships with Living Social means something. What exactly, who knows. I can speculate and try and read the Tea leaves. What is certain is that Microsoft chose to promote Living Social in this way for a business reason. Let’s see how this plays out. After all, Living Social desperately needs more distribution power, perhaps more investment, perhaps a buyout. It is certainly not lost on me that Amazon, which owns a good chunk of Living Social, has its head quarters in Seattle… Microsoft’s home. Regardless, there is more at work here than simply promoting deals on the surface main screen.
  3. What can we take from this for Canada?
  • Living Social is not strong in Canada. Microsoft should NOT have a marketing relationship with Living Social for Canada. Knowing Microsoft Canada the way I do,  there is a real opportunity here for one of Canada’s leading deal sites to work with the Microsoft Surface team. If I were a large national player in Canada, like Teambuy, Wagjag and even Tuango for Quebec, then I would be talking to Microsoft’s surface team immediately in order to replace the marketing arrangement with Living Social for Canada….immediately. If I were Microsoft, really, there are only a few choices in Canada worth looking at that will impact Surface adoption or experience. Option 1: Go with Teambuy. They are  the ONLY very large national deals service in Canada now that they and Dealfind have merged. Wagjag is not in Quebec and Buytopia, Dealticker or others are no where as large as Teambuy. A Teambuy/Dealfind partnership with Microsoft in Canada will certainly provide a large footprint across the country…not that large a foot print in Quebec though.  Option 2:  Go with a dual strategy….WagJag for most of Canada and then go with Tuango for Quebec. Wagjag’s relationship with Torstar will enable Microsoft to leverage other strong marketing channels for surface and going with Tuango for Quebec will enable Microsoft Surface to be more dominant in that region since Tuango dominates this region…..BY FAR. Regardless, I believe that the Microsoft Surface team and Teambuy, Wagjag, Tuango should be having partnership conversations… it is good for business, good for consumers. I am glad to help wherever I can, just give me a call.
  • Are there other hardware partnerships that can be had in Canada? You bet. All Daily Deal companies that are large enough should contact other tablet manufacturers and pitch them a marketing and distribution partnership. They promote the deals company on the tablet home screens, factory installed, and the deal site helps promote their interests in Canada. There are many tablets out there nowadays, not just from Apple and Microsoft. How about location based partnerships: GPS hardware style. Would a consumer benefit from locating a “local deal” when using their Garmin GPS on the road? Absolutely. Again, most partnerships with large hardware companies are done with the USA in mind. But most need to be tailored to Canada with Canadian content. I believe deal sites or top Aggregators in Canada should contact TomTom, Garmin, Magellan or other GPS manufacturers and start talking. There are millions of tourists using these devices and driving through Toronto, Montreal, Niagra region, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, etc every year. These consumers would certainly love to find deals on their travel route. Just a thought.
  • How about cell phones? Sure, but you are limited to relationships with the carriers. And they are certainly competitive. So Rogers, Bell, Telus, Videotron, Wind, MTS, Public Mobile, etc. Forget Rogers, they will not want a competitive app to their rDeals, Bell..if the sales of Astral Media still goes through, will use Astral Deals,  How about Telus..I believe they have a relationship with Wagjag…so, like I said, competitive.
  • Are there opportunities for other deal categories beyond the Local Daily Deal provider? Can flash sales sites or couponing sites make sense in terms of partnerships such as these? Yes. I certainly see RedFlagDeals and other deal portals forming more distribution and marketing partnerships. The point to remember is that as long as the deal provider has a large enough distribution and relevant content then a marketing/partnership case can be made.

The point of all this is as follows:

Deal companies need to continuously seek alternative forms of distribution beyond the status quo. If the cost of the alternative is a lot less expensive than the status quo or enables faster adoption, then alternatives need to be focused on. The above are just some examples learning from our USA counterparts. The benefit of a good distribution partnership or marketing relationship in the US is that it can be duplicated in Canada with Canadian specific content. So to all Deal providers…start calling and start partnering.

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