Google Ready To Go The Full Groupon With Offers

by , Jan 24, 2011, 7:30 AM
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As Google executives previously suggested, the search giant is going full-speed ahead with a very Groupon-like daily-deal service. "Google Offers is a new product to help potential customers and clientele find great deals in their area through a daily email," explains a confidential fact sheet leaked to tech blog Mashable on Thursday.

At first glance, Google Offers looks and operates just like Groupon and other daily deal services, which sends subscribers limited-time discounts on local services.

According to many in the emerging daily deal space, Google's entrance was all but inevitable. "It was only a matter of time," said Mike Rothman, Thrillist's VP of business development, who was recently put in charge of Thrillist's new Rewards deal service.

As Google admitted on Friday, it is already reaching out to businesses to get them on board with its Offers service, and has assembled a dedicated team to craft the deals.

"Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a prepaid offers/vouchers program," Google said in a statement.

According to Mashable -- which first broke news of Offers on Thursday night -- Google plans to pay out 80% of a business' revenue share three days after its deal runs, while holding onto the remaining 20% for 60 days to cover potential refunds.

To encourage social sharing, the new service includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Buzz and e-mail sharing options.

While never confirmed by Google, the tech giant reportedly tried to acquire Groupon for upwards of $6 billion last year.

Earlier this month, with the Groupon deal dead in the water, Google said it had every intention to enter the lucrative social buying space.

"When you look at our overall suite of services, especially around our advertising, we already have some things that are like [Groupon]," Marissa Mayer, Google VP of consumer products, told MediaBistro.

"We have things like coupons and offer-extension ads that allow merchants to basically make offers to our users," Mayer added. "And so we're looking at how can we take that technology and put it to use especially in the location space."

Long a key figure at Google, Mayer recently transitioned from search to a focus on Google Maps, local products and mobile products, and the development of "contextual discovery," i.e., using a consumers' location and context to help them find relevant content and listings.

Groupon, for its part, is reportedly preparing for an initial public offering as soon as mid-year. The group-buying leader only recently announced a $950 million round of funding, which valued the company at $4.75 billion.

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