Groupon is one of those peculiar phenomenons on the internets in that fits in the usable category.
Yes, its coupon format so familiar that I’m fairly sure your technotard Aunt first informed you that it existed. And now can’t help forwarding you 75% off spa deals every Thursday.
The other reason it’s successful from a business point of view is they have a vast army of salespeople doing the face to face thing.
The only bit of fancy new-age web wizardry that applies is Groupon’s social recommendations of any given offer needed to ensure it is applicable. Still, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about people merely spreading the word.
Groupon is successful because it embraces basic business and marketing tenets AD 101 to appeal to ordinary non-nerds.
Which is something Google fails at spectacularly at nearly every turn.
While I know technologically challenged types who run Chrome or use Gmail, they do so more as a means to an end after being pushed by geek offspring than because they’ve used several browsers in their time and have a philosophical bent towards cloud computing. They’re hardly Google brand advocates.
Google also struggles when they have to deal with the common man or woman. That’s right, their customer service sucks in a non-existent kind of a way. It’s part of their PhD hiring culture I suppose. It’s also one of the reasons they’re mightily profitable. All of a sudden they need to hire a host of sales reps and have them stroll around the Googleplex like they own the place? Not likely. They’ll start it off small and scale as required. But this is no time to assume you’re dealing with the smartest people in the room.
Oh, and the least said about Google’s forays into the social space, the better. This is another corporate culture problem as per the point above. When you’re predisposed to algorithms and social graphs you fail to understand how those connections are made on a human level. Or, to be more precise and to avoid the nerd stereotype, there’s nothing clever about the making of the connections, just the ability to apply them to the way people search.
Anyway, here’s Google’s comment to SeachEngineLand on proceedings (far more info about Google Offers there too):
Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways. We do not have more details to share at this time, but will keep you posted.
So, will you be looking for these types of offers when doing local searches? Or, will you be looking to offer these types of coupons with your business listings in Google Places?