Will Google’s Groupon clone swap out algorithms for good writing?

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Updated with confirmation

It looks like Google is preparing to launch its own version of popular deal service Groupon. Mashable just published a copy of what looks like a leaked fact sheet for the service, called Google Offers.

Google famously tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion, but the search giant was eventually rebuffed, and Groupon instead raised $950 million in funding and is reportedly preparing for a $15 billion public offering. Google, meanwhile, still has its sights on the local market, including local deals, signaled most obviously by the fact that it recently put high-profile executive Marissa Mayer in charge of local products.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the details revealed in the fact sheet is how closely they mirror the Groupon model. Back when the acquisition was still on the table, VentureBeat’s Owen Thomas wrote that it could be bad for Groupon — Google is notoriously tech-focused and algorithm-driven, while Groupon is a bit of a throwback, distributing its deals through email and emphasizing the importance of good writing.

In the case of Google Offers, it sounds like Google will distribute the deals across its ad network and on the Google Offers site, but Google emphasizes the fact that the deals will go out in a daily email. Google even has a writing team that will “craft a compelling write-up for your offer … and couple it with an engaging image.”

Basically, it sounds like Google has decided that Groupon has a model that works. The one difference that I can see is that the discounts offered through Google Offers appear to be purely time-based — you have to claim the deal by a certain deadline. Groupon offers, on the other hand, require a certain number of users to sign up before the deal is activated.

Google normally declines to comment on stories like this, but I’ve emailed the company on the off chance that it will respond.

Update: Here’s Google’s statement, basically confirming that the fact sheet is real

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.


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  1. [...] in January 2011, we got a peak at Google Offers, the company’s Groupon competitor. One month later, Google (finally) added checkin [...]