Canadian system offers coupons via banner ads

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia--Canadian-based WelcomeTo Search Engine is introducing a system for coupon-based banner ads.

WelcomeTo's new Xpress Coupons system lets online marketers offer discount coupons linked directly to their online shopping site, where visitors can easily complete their purchase.

"The ability of banner ads to generate performance has been declining," says Phil Dubois, president of WelcomeTo Search in Vancouver.

"This (couponing) gives consumers a reason to click" on a banner ad, he says.

How it works: Customers use their computer mouse to click on an Internet coupon banner ad and they're jumped directly into the marketer's online shopping site. Once there, they find that their electronic "shopping basket" already has the item added at the discounted price.

"It takes them closer to the shopping experience," says Mr. Dubois.

Launched in early August, Xpress Coupons so far has only one e-marketer using its coupons. Flasher Direct is using a coupon for a 15% discount on a first-aid kit to drive business at its Web site, where it sells traffic control equipment such as signs, barricades and message boards.

So far WelcomeTo's couponing system has seen interest -- but no coupons yet -- from grocery store chains, auto-related marketers and major retailers.

WelcomeTo earns a transaction fee for each sale generated through its coupon system.

Consumer promotion for Xpress Coupons begins in September with banner ads that point Internet users to the coupon Web site. Creative and media buying is handled in-house.

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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