Catalina Acquires CompuScan

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Targeted coupon distributor Catalina Marketing Corp., St. Petersburg, FL, has acquired CompuScan Marketing Inc., which markets technology for in-store sweepstakes contests.

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, although David Diamond, executive vice president at Catalina, said the company did not pay "a great deal of money."

Catalina, which distributes coupons through a network of retail outlets by targeting consumers based on scanner data of their purchases, has been licensing CompuScan technology for about three years to offer sweepstakes-style contests, in which prizes are randomly awarded at retail checkout based on specific purchases. The products' UPC codes essentially act as the sweepstakes entry form, and winners are notified immediately through Catalina's point-of-purchase printers.

"It's terrific for account-specific marketing, particularly for high-movement products," Diamond said.

In addition to using the technology to market its advertisers' products, Catalina also had been using it to drive people from its Web site into stores. One promotion the company had success with, according to Diamond, was a campaign in which Web-site visitors could bring a printed coupon into a retail outlet for the chance to win a free computer.

"That was a great promotion, but we couldn't run it that often because we had to pay the royalty," he said. "Now we can run it as often as we want."

The Checkout Prizes program currently accounts for less that 5 percent of Catalina's business, although Diamond said its use has been growing.

In addition to giving Catalina unlimited use of the product in the United States, the acquisition also will allow the company to expand it overseas, possibly to the United Kingdom, where it already has been tested, and to Japan, where there has been some interest in testing it. The CompuScan technology also has some application for ATM coupon dispensing, Diamond said, although he added that Catalina's entry into that business "is a long way down the road."

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