**As published at DIGIDAY:DAILY** Publisher: Groupon Inc. and Living Social Inc. Price: Free Platform: iOS Advertising: None Functionality: B- Fun Factor: C Overall: B- I’m reviewing two apps this week, because Groupon and LivingSocial are so similar that it just makes more sense to compare them than treat them independently. Groupon is the undeclared leader in the deals space because of its scale and earlier start, but LivingSocial hits all the same notes from a consumer point of view. Clones are cropping up regularly with a lot of interest as well. Even Twitter joined the fray recently in its own unique way.
Groupon and LivingSocial have their differences, but they have so much more in common. Both apps allow registered users to purchase deals with their stored credit card in a couple clicks. And once a purchase is made, the deal will stay in the user’s account for quick accessibility, and to provide a general reminder of unused deals. It’s a pretty straightforward process on both counts. I’ve been using and impulsively spending money on both services for a few months now. The real problem for Groupon and LivingSocial is that I’d probably spend even more money on their daily deals if they didn’t fall short in the same areas on their apps. When I first joined both services, I signed up for the daily e-mail alerts; I quickly tired of that and unsubscribed. The battle with the proverbial inbox is never ending, but to stay on top of it, I generally try to avoid e-mail for things like newsletters. The e-mail alerts from Groupon and LivingSocial did a decent job of luring me in to buy a deal from time to time, but after a while, the daily e-mail became more of a nuisance than a convenience. On mobile, the area where I think both services fall short is in their presentation of deals. Both apps present a directory-style listing of daily deals in each of the cities they have business in – undercutting their ability to target users more effectively. In each app, users are only given the option to choose a city and then view deals within that city. Users can click out of a city or neighborhood and check out deals in another, but since the apps only present cities as an alphabetized list, it feels like I’m just looking up words in a dictionary. In other words, I feel like I’m still doing some of the deal searching. There are so many ways Groupon and LivingSocial could target their deals to the right users. Perhaps users could at least save all their favorite cities and neighborhoods, and have those deals presented in a better layout on the apps’ dashboards. It would also be helpful if users could select and save their favorite types of deals. Both variables could be used to present users with a more targeted deal selection. As it is now, I only see deals when I decide to fire up one of the apps. If Groupon or LivingSocial made better use of the notifications feature in Apple’s iOS, I could be regularly alerted to deals – without the nuisance factor, because they’d match my pre-set criteria. Implementing those options – while not necessarily the most “exciting” of features – would help increase impulse spending through both services. After all, impulse spending by users should be their No. 1 goal when it comes to mobile. (Now, why do I feel like I’m doing all the work for them again?)