ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Mobile Marketer site for the latest mobile marketing news.

Google Wallet makes gains against Passbook in mobile loyalty

As Google Wallet ramps up its efforts in loyalty programs, it is slowly inching towards the ranks of Passbook and giving the Apple alternative to mobile payments a run for its money.

Google Wallet, Samsung Wallet and Passbook all offer significant opportunities for marketers in terms of engaging consumers via mobile loyalty programs. However, while marketers ought to look into each of the three offerings, Passbook integration would probably be a good first step in the space, according to industry experts.

?Passbook has been out longer, and they have the benefit of when they update the iOS everyone gets it,? said Alex Campbell, cofounder of Vibes, Chicago. ?If you define leader as number of consumers who have it, then yeah Passbook is in the lead, but obviously it?s not all about that, it?s about usage on the marketing side as well.

"Since Google Wallet updated a few months back, they?re catching up," he said.

Mobile wallets
While Passbook may have seemed to be the clear winner up until now, Google Wallet is raising some buzz, with a few marketers choosing the latter over the former.

For example, Orbitz recently chose Google Wallet for its new rewards program (see story).

According to Lucas Tieleman, CEO/co-founder of Fosbury, Austin, TX, Google Wallet is actually the most expansive loyalty offering right now. Brands can easily promote their card in the app, and consumers can easily enroll in the programs.

While Passbook also offers many brands, it is only available for consumers who have an iOS phone. Google Wallet, on the other hand is available on both Android and iOS phones.

Google Wallet also makes it easy to find content and loyalty programs, which is not surprising since Google has long been a leader in search.

It also lets marketers tap into unlimited locations, while Passbook only works with ten locations.

Samsung Wallet has significantly fewer brands available right now.

?I would say that Apple is taking the lead, mainly because Passbook is pre-installed on every iPhone in the market,? Mr. Tieleman said.  ?This gives them a gigantic user base and offers consumers a really easy way to get coupons, loyalty card, tickets, boarding passes and gift cards on the phone.

?Google Wallet offers payments, but currently lacks support for tickets, gift cards and boarding passes,? he said. ?And they've just opened up the platform for devices that don't have an NFC chip installed. Also, it's not pre-installed yet, which gives it a smaller user base and a little less of a frictionless experience.

?In general I would say they are both leading strong, and it's very early days for the market.?

Despite the differences in the wallets, the functionalities are very similar.

?We like to compare it to app development,? Mr. Tieleman said. ?The core functionalities for all of the platforms are the same, you just tweak every experience to get the most out of that specific platform.

?We think that's the way to go on mobile wallets,? he said. ?The most important thing is that you catch as much market share as you can.

"Mobile wallets offer a unique value by being installed on most phones in the market. The result is a frictionless consumer experience to use loyalty cards, gift cards or coupons.?

Leader of the pack
While each of the wallets are useful for marketers, Passbook still has an advantage because of Apple?s consumer base.

?It's reasonable to presume that Apple Passbook has considerably more users than Samsung Wallet, making it a more favorable platform for marketers,? said Jordan McKee, analyst at Yankee Group, Boston.

For marketers who are trying to decide which mobile wallet to integrate with, Vibe's Mr. Campbell suggest choosing all of them.

?I think there will always be people who use Passbook and people who use Google Wallet, and the functionality is pretty similar,? he said. ?If you?re a marketer I would not plan on one of these wallets winning out. You?re going to have to work with both.

"Samsung and Isis are also out there, you have fragmentation. So from a marketing perspective it?s important that you think about wallet as a whole. It?s an ?and? not an ?or.??

Marketers should create a mobile loyalty program that can integrate with all of the different platforms in order to get more reach.

That said, marketers should also make it as easy as possible for consumers to integrate with whatever mobile wallet they have.

If a marketer sends out an email blast with a mobile coupon, the email should not direct Android users to Passbook. 

Wallet integration
Whether or not Google Wallet or Passbook take the lead, marketers should be looking into mobile wallet loyalty programs.

According to a recent Vibes report, only 19 percent of consumers surveyed said they have noticed a retailer implementing offers and loyalty programs using mobile wallets even though 85 percent of consumers said they would receive some benefit from the non-payment side of the mobile wallet (see story).

This points to a disconnect between use and demand. Consumers are interested in receiving offers and coupons via mobile wallets, but retailers have yet to catch on.

Valpak is one example of a company that is acting on this demand.

The company recently integrated with Passbook, MS Windows Mobile Wallet, Google Wallet and Samsung Wallet. For Valpak, it was important to let the consumer choose the wallet and not the marketer.

?There are no specific benefits of one wallet over another,? said Michael Vivio, president of Cox Target Media, provider of Valpak. ?Valpak is agnostic in its approach to partnering with leading mobile wallets.

?For Valpak, it?s about the consumer and our promise to deliver great neighborhood savings to consumers wherever there are, at any time,? he said.

"By integrating with all the major wallets, Valpak provides the ability for consumers to save money using their favorite wallet app; Valpak is simply giving consumers the choice to save using their favorite wallet.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York