NEW YORK: The use of mobile coupons is accelerating but, while marketers can target consumers based on coupon data, they should avoid targeting the coupons themselves, according to a leading industry figure.

Steven Boal, chief executive of, told AdExchanger that consumers do not like getting coupons of a different value from other people.

"There is a big difference between targeting ad media and targeting coupons," he said. "Targeting coupons by giving one person a $2 coupon and someone else a $1 coupon for the same product is simply not a good strategy."

Boal added: "On the internet, everyone comments and tweets and blogs about the coupons they find, and we see a lot of complaints for this sort of thing."

Even differentiating coupon values by geography to reflect local market and competitive conditions generated complaints, he noted.

But whatever the targeting strategy, the use of mobile coupons is growing.

"The rate of change is definitely accelerating," said Boal. "We're seeing the use of mobility increase across our portfolio."

As evidence for this point of view, recent eMarketer figures show that 92.5m US shoppers redeemed a digital coupon in 2012. The insights provider predicted that the number of mobile coupon users would reach 53.2m in 2014.

Meanwhile, a recent survey from RetailMeNot, a digital coupon site, found that 51% of consumers who used coupons used them more today than five years ago, while 37% said they used them more than they did a year ago.

While economic factors were the main reason for the increased usage of coupons, a sizeable minority (23%) said that technology had made the process easier.

But the way that consumers use mobile coupons continues to reflect print usage, Boal observed.

"In a pre-shop mode they're choosing things they plan to buy, they're adding them to a list, something like Grocery IQ, which manages both your shopping list and your coupon list in one place, and automatically applying those coupons without having to swipe a barcode at a grocery store," he said.

Data sourced from AdExchanger; additional content by Warc staff