Welcome ARF, our newest MediaBizBloggerWith nearly a billion dollars in financing, rumors of multi-billion dollar acquisition offers, and a highly-praised customer service force, local deal service, Groupon is one of the hottest brands around. Groupon&#8217;s meteoric rise has breathed life into the local marketing industry and challenged staid marketing business models. We caught up with Lee Brown, Groupon&#8217;s SVP of National Sales to find out the secrets of Groupon&#8217;s success. ARF: Give us the backstory on Groupon. Lee Brown: In November 2008 Groupon grew out of a website called The Point, a collective action website that helps bring people together to raise money or influence change. Groupon, a name that blends "group" and "coupon," sends subscribers a daily email with an incredible deal in their city. Today, Groupon is in more than 40 countries, selling around 900 deals per day and has saved customers more than $1.8 billion worldwide.ARF: How do Groupon deals work?LB: The deal is available for purchase for one day and only becomes active after a certain number of people buy the deal, ensuring it's worthwhile for both the customer and the business. Popular deal categories include restaurants, spas, tours, hotels, sporting events, museums, theaters and much more.ARF: Why should a merchant or brand use Groupon? What are the benefits? LB: The best thing about Groupon is that the model works across industries and geographies, from fine dining to a yoga studio to an art museum. It levels the playing field for the local clothing store to compete with the 'big guys,' netting unprecedented exposure and viral buzz that would be impossible to secure via traditional advertising.ARF: Do you have any examples of Groupon successes?LB: One great success story would be Tangerine Salons in the Dallas, TX area. The Groupon, which ran in September 2009, was $30 for $75 worth of services (massage, facial or hair services). While the owners expected to sell in the neighborhood of 1,500 Groupons, Tangerine Salons sold 3,756 Groupons. The owners had tried advertising with the "traditional" channels (newspapers, magazines, etc.), but wanted to try something that would bring people in the salon directly and make it possible to track ad dollars. Groupon was the perfect answer.ARF: How are you making it easier for merchants to track the success of their Groupons?LB: Groupon has developed a smartphone app that tracks redemption and spend per Groupon, which communicates seamlessly with each merchant's dashboard on Groupon.com. We're proactively sending devices with the application uploaded to select merchants to ensure that businesses can access this data.Want to hear more? Lee Brown will be joining Naveen Selvadurai, Co-Founder of foursquare to discuss the &#8220;new local&#8221; at the ARF&#8217;s Re:think Convention on March 22. Registration is now open.