Google Offers, a possible Groupon clone is yet to be announced publicly but it seems their local listing section, Google Places, is already allowing business owners to host coupons. Yes, this time India didn’t have to wait. Local business can go to Google Local to add a coupon which will show up every time somebody does a local search for your business on Google. Google does not charge anything to local businesses as of now to upload a coupon and neither do users need to pay anything. It’s like one more field on your business listing, just more customizable and printable. Google is offering a gadget to put up on your iGoogle page as well.
The local businesses for one are having a tough time understanding the whole deal about coupons, atleast in India. Some are using it for putting up business description and others are playing the SEO game with it. Where as there are some interesting ones as well, like a school that is offering 25% discount on admission fees.You get the idea, controling user generated content is tough but also the key for a platform’s survival.
Surprisingly, as opposed to the rumors, the Google Offers is nowhere close to the Groupon business model(or there is more to it unrevealed). With current features this doesn’t look like something that will take off as a usual couponing platform and is more closer to sites like khojguru or retailmenot, who just list coupons and offer it for free. As we have mentioned earlier that couponing space is best suited for local search/content sites which is one benefit that Google Offers will certainly get. Other being the Google tag. Also, like most products that Google launches which have different motive than what is seen on the face of it, this one could be a feedback mechanism and tracking system to show value of Google to local businesses. Earlier, Google’s 411 service was about collecting voice samples and Google Analytics is about getting more data points for training the search/ad bots.
So what were we really expecting from Google, a Groupon killer?
[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]