AT&T launches online deals service

US carrier AT&T is to launch an online coupon service to rival Groupon and Facebook’s offerings. The discount site, which will run on the telco’s subsidiary, launches in June with initial services in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth. To entice users to sign up, AT&T is offering a $10 credit. More cities are expected to follow after the initial launch, as well as national deals, all of which will be available to mobile device users, according to AT&T.

The American online discount/deals market is estimated to be worth in excess of $1bn annually, with analysts BIA/Kelsey projecting a value of $3.93bn by 2015. Groupon, the leading player in the space, is planning an IPO later this year; estimates of its value vary between $15-25bn.

AT&T isn’t the only player looking to cash in on an increasingly crowded the space. Towards the end of April, Facebook began trials of a daily coupon/discount site in five American cities. Users of that service are able to buy coupons for special offers directly through Facebook, with the social networking site taking a percentage of the revenues. Google also entered the market recently, with its “Offers” service, while Amazon has invested over $170m in deals service LivingSocial.

In March this year, AT&T launched a location-based marketing service, sending SMS alerts for special offers to subscribers. The ShopAlerts service, which was the first of its kind in America, is offered on an opt-in basis. AT&T’s move into location-based, social media offerings is part of a strategy to gain share in a mobile advertising market valued at more than $1bn.

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