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Coupon giant Valpak has overhauled its Web site using Ajax and other features to make its online coupons download faster and searchable by distance, maps and category. The overhaul is the 15-person division’s sixth since 1998. Valpak, “the blue envelope company,” is owned by Cox Target Marketing.

“It’s all about relevancy for the consumer,” notes Brad Barnett, Valpak’s VP of strategic planning and development. “They can sort (the coupons) differently. They can use us for specific solutions or find what’s closest to them. If they spend time on the site, we hope to keep them there for another reason.”

Todd Leiser, Valpak’s VP of digital solutions and business development, adds that the new site is built more around the way people actually shop. It “uses the map pretty strongly [and is] based on the way that consumers are using geospatial products,” he says. “If you are at a strip mall, you can see what dry cleaners are near a restaurant.”

“Our goal is to get as much traffic as possible,” Leiser adds – whether it comes from SEO, SEM or Google Base. “Every month, we get higher views and higher conversion rates.”

Last year, Valpak made news by agreeing to be distributed in Google Base. The deal is now providing “good incremental traffic,” says Leiser. But it is not really comparable to self-generated traffic coming from promoting the URL in the direct mail product.

In most cases, coupons on are being offered to Valpak merchant advertisers as a free add-on. The lone exceptions are banner ads and featured listings. But company execs believe the Web site might have a positive impact on overall merchant sales, perhaps helping customer retainer rates.

Specifically, they hope to use the site’s newfound flexibility so that advertisers change their content on a regular basis, especially before, during and after major holidays (i.e., Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day). “You can change coupons on the fly,” notes Barnett. doesn’t have the ability, however, to add more flexibility to the company’s sales cycles, which are controlled by its independent franchisees. Contracts run one month or longer.

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