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'Nation's Restaurant News' partners with DealOn

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Nation's Restaurant News inked a deal in December with group-buying website and distribution network DealOn. The agreement tests the idea that a b-to-b publisher can carve new digital revenue from the burgeoning market, led by the likes of Groupon, for discount restaurant vouchers.

“If your b-to-b brand has a b-to-c audience, you have to look at group buying,” Chris Keating, associate publisher of NRN, said.

The NRN brand will promote the group buying and online marketing program to its audience of restaurateurs through print and digital assets, Keating said. NRN will receive a percentage of revenue from all marketing programs sold through nrn.dealon.com and distributed through DealOn's network, which includes white label services housed on various consumer sites.

“It will be a modest revenue stream at first, but our philosophy is that we're dominant online,” Keating said. “Group buying is utterly transformational. It's the next iteration of pay-for-click advertising, and it's important for our readers.”

The partnership will help steer restaurateurs through a fragmented marketplace to a platform that cultivates a high-quality audience, he said. NRN chose DealOn because the company has demonstrated an understanding of the restaurant business, Keating said.

“We're seeing a backlash against Groupon-like consumers who come [to the restaurant once] and buy once,” Keating said. “Groupon has built a younger audience—getting that 3 o'clock snack. DealOn is trying to carve out a higher end of the market. We believe that approach will make our readers more money.”

DealOn favors straightforward copy over the pun-laden quips favored by its competitors. DealOn CEO Rich Razgaitis said the company targets affluent deal seekers over the age of 30. These customers, considered the sweet spot in the restaurant business, are more likely to return after their vouchers have been spent, Razgaitis said.

“At the end of the day, this is all about ROI and value-ad,” he said. “What kind of consumer did you bring into my business?”

There has been a boom in daily deal sites recently. DealOn, a group-buying entity owned by advertising network AdBlade, is banking on the endorsement of such media brands as NRN and Zagat, with which it announced a partnership last August, to help it establish a dominant position in the coveted restaurant vertical.

“It's one of the more challenging spaces to penetrate,” Razgaitis said. “Working with an industry trade publication with strong b-to-b positioning strengthens our place in the market.”

DealOn may try to replicate that strategy in other competitive verticals as well. “There is an opportunity within travel and retail to establish anchor partnerships,” Razgaitis said.

Penton acquired NRN from Lebhar-Friedman in December, after the relationship with DealOn had been announced. Keating said the independent restaurant owners that subscribe to now sibling publication Restaurant Hospitality could benefit from the partnership as well.

He'll be keeping an eye on revenues and audience feedback as the project rolls out over the next year. “We'll fertilize it, and then we'll check back in six to 12 months,” he said.

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