85% of consumers research online before purchasing offline and as the two worlds converge, it’s inevitable that mobile will play a part in bridging the gap between them.

Some publishers certainly agree and the development of their high street based apps throw further weight behind such a notion as do the download figures for the leading incentive site’s apps.

With a combined total number of downloads exceeding nine million (Vouchercloud tops 4.3 million, Vouchercodes.co.uk has three million and quidco boasts 1 million along with TopCashBack) it’s clear there’s an appetite from would-be customers.

It does beg the question though; with the obvious consumer interest and the heavy technological investment from publishers, can the advertisers keep up? To put it simply; they have to! 

A reason to load

The most successful apps give you a reason to load them up on a regular basis; whether it is those elusive three stars on Angry Birds, the impending opportunity to beat your mates on QuizUp or seeking inspiration for a night out from Yplan – all of them have an almost addictive nature to them, and in order to maintain consumer interest in their apps, publishers do have a big challenge in keeping their content fresh and interesting.

They are seemingly at the mercy of their advertisers and the freshness of offers/content that they make available.

Advertisers themselves are in a difficult situation as the breadth of solutions available to track in-store can be overwhelming and everyone seems to be doing it differently.

The mixture of barcode scanners (such as Eagle Eye Solutions), promotional buttons on tills and card linking (such as Birdback, Reward and Plan B) can be intimidating and no single solution offers the breadth of publishers that currently exists online (at least for the time being).

App developers who favour a less commercial and more innovative approach have a place in the app ecosystem too. Nokia City Lens is a good example; overlaying shops, restaurants and bars to your surroundings to give you a genuinely cool augmented reality whilst Red Laser’s barcode scanner encourages customers to roam the shops and then get the best price online for what they want to buy.

Innovative payment models

It is clear that without monetisation options, the maintenance of apps is difficult longer term and it could see the emergence of more varied payment models.

Not long ago, quidco operated a pay per check-in service from their app, the scanning of receipt options offered by both the leading cashback sites show that the shift in payment model is already well underway.

The potential that sits behind all high street apps is diverse and powerful. The geo-targeting when customers are near a particular store represents a whole new level of never seen before micro marketing whilst the targeting based on handset or operator could kick off some aggressive marketing in the telco sector.

It would be fair to say that high street apps do have a place in the performance marketing mix but they are currently limited by the number of advertisers able to provide offers, content and monetisation. Any advertiser reading this that’s not technically capable should be aware, you’re already losing ground!