As we settle into planning and strategy for 2013, one of the discussions that keeps coming up is: “What are the big 2012 changes that will affect how 2013 unfolds?” Of course, we could talk for hours about 100 different things that happened last year, but in my mind there are two clear standouts that will affect a brand’s digital plans (specifically mobile & social) in 2013: (1) Passbook and (2) Card-Linked Offers.

As we’re all aware, hundreds of companies of all shapes and sizes, directly or indirectly, chase mobile coupon-ing. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to convince you on why that is, so let’s take as a given that mobile coupon-ing is a critical piece of the marketing mix (those unconvinced, please give me a ring or drop me and email and we can talk offline). The number 1 challenge for all these companies and their mobile coupon campaigns is fulfillment and tracking redemptions. Brands simply have not had an easy and efficient method to tackle these elements without huge infrastructure investments. Enter Passbook and Card-Linked Offers, which address these hurdles in innovative ways.

Passbook

There is no shortage of mobile wallet solutions out there, but Apple as usual has trumped everyone and launched an extremely elegant and powerful solution. For those uninformed, Passbook is an iOS6 solution that can house coupons, boarding passes, tickets and more from ALL of the brands you want to interact with. It can also store loyalty cards and gift cards for convenient, instantaneous access.

Passbook users benefit from the following features:

  • Rich media content that is extremely customizable for brands and campaigns
  • Display of 2D barcodes (Aztec, PDF417 and QR)
  • Notifications triggered by location or user
  • Notifications triggered by date and time
  • Localization of the pass in up to 35 languages
  • Updates can be pushed via the Apple Push Notification Service

Why is this so exciting? Well, five reasons to be precise:

  1. There is no shortage of iPhone adoption across all carriers, so Passbook has the ability to get to scale very fast.
  2. iPhone users are generally early adopters of new technology and will tolerate a few bumps in the road as solutions evolve.
  3. Feature-wise, Passbook has already eclipsed the competition.
  4. We all know that linking directly to payment solutions is not a far-fetched given iTunes dominance as a mobile content solution.
  5. Apple has opened Passbook’s framework and notification services to the development community for free.

All in all, look for Passbook to carry major weight in 2013 (even more exciting, stay tuned for some Passbook-related announcements from Waterfall in the very near future).

Card-Linked Offers

Another new solution gaining steam in the market is essentially a coupon-less coupon. Here’s how it works: a customer receives an alert about a deal from a brand that tells them to simply go and buy something with a specific credit or debit card. Once the transaction is completed, the customer automatically receives the rebate, instantaneously posted to their account.

And why is this so exciting? Simply, customers don’t need to clip a coupon, add anything to an app or remember anything other than to use the correct card when they buy a product or service. Card-Linked Offers remove a ton of friction for consumers and provide brands with near real-time tracking on fulfillment and redemption.

Overall, Passbook and Card-Linked Offers individually and collectively have the ability to drive a ton of consumption of digital content. Both are clear drivers of exciting conversations with clients and prospects, and it looks to me like they will break some of the inertia we’ve seen in these marketing channels over the last few years.