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Ibotta launches ‘first app-to-app affiliate program’
Moving beyond its previous playing field, the mobile shopping app is announcing customer cashback rewards for making purchases in other apps.
Customers who make purchases of selected real-world products and services offered by the free Ibotta shopping app, and then send back photos of their receipts, have received over $110 million in rewards since the app’s launch in 2012.
Today, the Denver-based company is extending its reward network to other apps, offering what it describes as the “first app-to-app affiliate platform.” Now, users can immediately get credited with rewards when they use Ibotta to make a purchase in another, linked app.
In the Ibotta app, users find the latest offers, or they can search for offers within a given category. The reward is attributed in real time. Here’s the app-to-app flow:
The initially available apps include Boxed, Groupon, Hotels.com, Jet, Caviar, Delivery.com, DoorDash, Drizly, and Spring, allowing users to earn rewards for such in-app purchases as booking hotel rooms, ordering food delivery or buying concert tickets. Ibotta points to ComScore data from first quarter of this year, which shows that native app commerce exceeded mobile web commerce for the first time.
The Ibotta app affiliate platform is powered by app-to-app deep-linking and attribution from New York City-based contextual commerce company Button. Ibotta CEO Bryan Leach told me this is the first implementation of Button’s app-to-app reward tech, and the first such use of app-to-app rewards in the US. Previously, he said, Button offered deep linking but without rewards attribution, such as booking an Uber ride from inside the OpenTable restaurant reservation app.
Leach said his company’s key competitors in the online rewards space are Ebates and RetailMeNot, although he noted that those businesses use desktop and mobile web, while Ibotta is based around its mobile app.
He also said that major affiliate link providers like LinkShare or CJ Junction do not have the tech to support deep-linking attribution.
Another differentiator: dynamic segmentation, where the value of a reward to a customer or the commission to Ibotta varies by the value of that customer.
This capability, first announced by Ibotta in May, is powered by Acxiom’s data onboarder LiveRamp, which provides data on in-app, on the web, or real-world purchases by a customer. Additionally, the segmentation is informed by looking up customer data in the brand’s customer relationship management system.
A new customer, for instance, might be considered more valuable to a brand, so she might receive a 25-percent cash back on a purchase. Ibotta’s commission is higher for that new customer but lower for a returning customer, who might receive a lower cash back. Alternatively, a brand might choose to give a higher cash reward and pay a higher commission for a customer with a higher lifetime value.
Leach said that no affiliate network offers such real-time differences in rewards or commissions based on customer segmentation, adding that affiliate links usually operate as “one size fits all.”
During the previous beta test of these app-to-app affiliate links, Ibotta said there has been over than a million dollars weekly in in-app purchases for brands through its app, with a conversion rate of 21 percent.