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This morning I had the chance to talk to ZiXXo CEO Mike Hogan. ZiXXO has positioned itself as a platform provider for online coupon distribution and syndication. It also has a destination site where users can look up local coupons and print them.

This not only serves user intent and can drive traffic to a local search site that runs ZiXXo's white-labeled platform (think of it as a "coupons engine"), but it can also improve tracking and enable better ROI analysis because the coupon itself is present all the way up until the point of conversion. Compare this with pay-per-click and pay-per-phone-call, which only reach a certain point in the buying process — there is still a gap between a call or click and an offline conversion.

Part of the challenge with online coupons is preventing fraud (duplicability of coupons). Hogan claims this is mostly present in large chain stores that after receiving a coupon generated by a third party, will send it to that party to be redeemed, from an accounting standpoint. These types of situations are more conducive to fraud because the clerk at the store level didn't create the coupon herself.

ZiXXo's solution conversely addresses the SME market where businesses are very familiar with the coupon that they themselves created. Its platform allows advertisers to create or upload their existing coupons, which are then distributed by ZiXXo through its network of media channels. It is currently forming syndication deals to make this happen, and possible channels include local directory sites (Judy's Book, Insider Pages, etc.) IYPs or newspaper Web sites.

Interestingly, there is also a social media component to the platform that lets users rate and review coupons and their corresponding businesses. This adds another tagging metric to coupons, allowing them to be searchable by qualities such as "highest rated" in addition to location, category and other standard search metrics (social search is a hot area as we keep saying).

The API is also available for mashup development, meaning we could see some interesting integration of coupon management in the local media space in the coming year. This will be an interesting company to watch within an interesting space. There is a lot more to talk about here and we will do so in an upcoming Local Media Journal article. In the meantime, a screencast of the technology is available here.

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