The Download: LivingSocial to experiment with personalized deals

July 1, 2012

LivingSocial subscribers already receive personalized daily deals based on their stated geography. The Washington region, for example, is divided into Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and the District. There are also deals specifically for families and homeowners.

The company’s latest plans go a step further. LivingSocial intends to crunch the data a user generates when he or she inputs information or makes a purchase in order to serve up discounts on products and services they are more likely to buy.

“If we’ve sent you 15 facials and you’ve never bought one of them or ever clicked through on the e-mail, well guess what, we should be able to figure out your skin is perfect already and let’s stop actually doing that,” said chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy. (He’s the son-in-law of Washington Post Co. chief executive Donald E. Graham).

But successful personalization requires not only information about a customer’s preferences and shopping habits, but a large enough inventory of deals to offer options. For that reason, LivingSocial will begin in markets where it has been active the longest.

The firm’s chief rival, Groupon, has had a similar initiative under way for several months. The Chicago-based company allows users to select which deals most appeal to them, then shows other offers based on the information.

The new effort shows that LivingSocial will continue to innovate its daily deals, which make up roughly 75 percent of its revenue, even as the company looks to diversify beyond them.

LivingSocial plans to unfurl several products this summer to help merchants with customer loyalty, digital marketing and point-of-sale operations. It’s also building on its burgeoning entertainment business, partnering with local merchants to host one-of-a-kind events.

Firm choices

Maryland economic development officials could determine in as soon as two weeks which venture capital firms will be given a piece of the InvestMaryland fund that the state’s legislature approved last year.

Thirty-seven private investment firms applied to manage the funds and were screened by the Maryland Venture Fund Authority, an appointed committee that’s helmed by MedImmue chief executive Peter Greenleaf.

Altius Associates, a consultant, will further vet select firms, and five to seven will ultimately be chosen. Those companies will share in roughly two-thirds of the $84 million fund. The rest will be invested directly through the Maryland Venture Fund and the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority.

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