Google Finally Hits Market With Own Groupon Clone: Offers

Search Giant Follows Newspapers, Ad Networks and Two Well-Funded Players, Groupon and LivingSocial, Into Local Deals Game

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Google has finally launched its Groupon competitor, Google Offers. At this point, Google is so late to the deals game that newspapers, magazines, coupon companies and a slew of other me-tooers have beat the search giant to the punch.

There are so many Groupon clones today, a new breed of ad networks and exchanges has grown up to satiate the ever-expanding appetite for deals. With so many media companies following Groupon and LivingSocial's lead into the daily-deals market, at least a dozen companies are providing the technology and manpower to sell to local merchants. After all, BAI/Kelsey Group estimates the deals market will reach $3.9 billion by 2015.

Google has had a relationship with one such company that's amassing a sales force and extra deals inventory, Adility. "In Portland, with their campaign for Google Places (its local business service), [Google] reached out to local merchants and used us and our elastic sales cloud to turn on reps for them in a certain markets," Adility founder-CEO Thomas Cornelius told Ad Age last month.

Google launched Offers yesterday with a YouTube video promoting the service. The beta test will first roll out in Portland, Ore., with more cities coming soon. While details are still slim, the service will launch with deals distributed via email. No mobile component appears imminent, besides an animated smartphone in the launch video.

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Google Offers

"Yesterday we launched a marketing campaign inviting Portlanders to sign up for a test of Google Offers -- to get great deals delivered right to their in-boxes," said a Google spokeswoman via email. "Offers is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new services that give consumers great deals while helping connect businesses with customers in new ways." Google stressed this isn't a product launch, just a marketing push to get users to sign up; Google will have more details on what will make this product unique once it officially launches.

Meanwhile, since launching in November 2008, Groupon has already 60 million subscribers in more than 500 global markets with its email daily deals and has recently set its eyes on mobile deals with Groupon Now and its recent acquisition of location-based service Whrrl. Groupon and LivingSocial have raised a staggering $1.4 billion and $632 million, respectively, to expand globally as other well-funded competitors (ahem, Google) enter the space.

Reports that Google would launch a Groupon clone emerged in January, after the deals service spurned a $6 billion-buyout bid from the search giant.

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