Spurned by Groupon, Google with Larry Page now at the helm is to launch its own Groupon clone, a new Google check-out powered social commerce platform called ‘Google Offers’ integrated with Facebook and Twitter.  Mashable broke the story late last week, it was picked up by the Wall Street Journal and others, and then the Google Offers official briefing document was posted to the Web (transcribed below): So here’s the official skinny on Google Offers, which is in Google’s own words a “pre-paid offers/vouchers program”

Grow Your Business with Google Offers

Key Benefits:

  • Bring in new customers with your offer
  • Get exposure on Google ad networks
  • Get paid quickly and up-front

What Is Google Offers?

Google Offers is a new product to help potential customers and clientele find great deals in their area through a daily email. For businesses, it’s a smart and easy way to find new, high-value customers and bring them right to you.

Why Google Offers?

With our prepaid model, there are no out-of-pocket expenses to spread the word about your business to the millions of Google users and subscribers in your local area. You only pay when a customer buys your offer. Here are other benefits:

  • Get in front of more potential customers in your city
  • Bring in both new and valuable customers with great deals
  • Exposure across Google ad networks at no additional cost
  • Manage your offer easily with tools to track and measure your ROI
  • Get paid quickly with no out-of-pocket expense for your business

A Google Offer is a daily deal that enables subscribers to pre-purchase products and services from local businesses at attractive discounts.

Here’s How Google Offers Works:

Step 1: Create Your Offer – To get started, you’ll identify an item or service that you want to promote and discount in order to attract new customers, including any limits on quantity. We can work with you to come up with an enticing deal. An example would be: $25 for $50 for products or services at your business.

Step 2: Market Your Offer – Our writing team will craft a compelling write-up for your offer, approved by you, and couple it with an engaging image in order to best represent your business or the services you provide. We’ll also figure out the best time to run your deal.

Step 3: Run Your Offer – Your deal will be sent to local subscribers, advertised across Google ad networks, and showcased on the Google Offers site. An offer helps entice new customers to try your business—but even if they don’t purchase an offer that day, they’ll still be exposed to your brand and business. Customers who do select your offer will pay for it in advance. There are no out-of-pocket costs for you.

Step 4: Collect Your Money – After your offer goes live, we’ll simply deduct our fee from the deal revenue and you’ll get cash in your pocket from the offer approximately three business days after the offer runs.

Step 5: Serve Your Customers – Soon after your offer runs, customers will arrive with offer in-hand. Customers will either bring a printed copy or show a mobile version of the purchased offer, which includes the barcode or redemption ID. You can simply scan the barcodes or enter the IDs into the tools we provide to easily track your new business.


Things to note from the above and online sleuthing

  • Group-Buy?: Retailers can set maximum vouchers to be sold on the platform but it’s not clear if minimum can be set – if not, it’s not technically ‘group-buy’.  Apparently no dynamic demand-driven pricing
  • Google Copy: Google copywriters will write the ads
  • Mobile: Vouchers will be mobile with barcode and redemption ID (and paper version if needed)
  • Ad Networks + Email + Web + Reader: Offers pushed out across Ad Networks, email subscriber lists, onsite and Google Reader
  • Social: Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Buzz and e-mail sharing options, apparently no referral incentive (as LivingSocial’s 1+3=Free offer)
  • Checkout: Google Offers to be powered by Google Checkout.
  • 20% Retained: Businesses receive 80% of their revenue share 3 days after the deal, and 20% 60 days later (to cover refunds)
  • Maps & Places: Should link in with Google Maps & Places; users can already use ‘Google Offers’ to create offer coupons for their place page (but not pre-paid vouchers)

From http://yfrog.com/f/h597529948j/

Initial thoughts

  • This is a (Local) Ad Network: Google is positioning Google Offers as next generation classified advertising – and Google knows how to sell ads. Whilst it’s initially targeting small businesses, Google Offers will be attractive to big national retail brands to drive footfall, especially during retail events
  • This is the Face of Next-Gen Performance Advertising: No more PPC, this is advertising that starts with redemption – could this model evolve for online purchases (watch out Gilt, Ideeli and Hautelook)
  • Viable Alternative to Facebook Deals and Groupon: With Google Maps, the Rise of Google Places, Gmail, and the Google Ad Network, Google Offers is surely a top player in the fast-growing huge daily deals market  and could challenge Facebook Deals, Groupon and LivingSocial for the top spot for local advertising.  Does the mooted Groupon IPO now look less attractive?
  • It’s Commerce, but is it Social Commerce? Sure there are social media sharing features to promote deal-sharing, but it looks like no demand-driven activation, or demand driven dynamic pricing – initially at least.  Nor is there any referral program built in (three shares that convert = free to you).  Is Google Offers a social commerce platform or a daily deals platform? And as most retail is moving to add a social layer – does it matter?