Irvine-based Local.com has acquired iTwango LLC, a technology platform that allows for group buying of daily deals by shoppers from area businesses. The move marks the search site and network's expansion into this growing advertising sector.
Group buying allows for the purchase of discounted offers from a business if a minimum number of buyers is reached – sites such as Groupon offer this kind of platform. The segment has garnered notice from small-business advertisers and consumers alike; visits to a sample of group-buying sites and aggregators jumped 610 percent between August 2009 and 2010, according to Experian Hitwise.
"We believe that the group-buying model is a powerful new development in local advertising that effectively closes the gap between online research and offline transactions, and therefore represents an important step in demonstrating to small businesses the immediacy and value of local online advertising,” said Heath Clarke, Local.com chairman and CEO.
iTwango enables sellers to provide deals to consumers who then receive geo-targeted offers every day in their inbox. Through the program, consumers can join group buys to find deals; request collective purchases; and sellers can compete to fulfill such demands. Local.com plans to rebrand iTwango and distribute the platform through its flagship site and network of more than 1,000 local and regional media sites and more than 100,000 company-managed websites.
“We expect that iTwango will be an exciting new product for Local.com and our extensive network of regional media publishers, who have the feet-on-the-street sales forces to capitalize on this emerging local advertising segment," said Clarke.
Among iTwango's other features: The platform allows advertisers to set minimum and maximum participation in deals, which allows for more focused exposure to companies and discounts. In addition, the program automatically identifies a consumer's location and offers easy registration and purchase; provides simple self-service sign-up for advertisers; and enables multiple listing and location-based deals.
"We will be investing into our group-buying technology platform," said Clarke, "and (we) anticipate rolling out our first products towards the middle of 2011.”
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