Google Coupons Joining the Witness Protection Program as Google Offers

You won’t have Google Coupons to kick around anymore. It appears that they are joining the witness protection program under a new name: Google Offers.

Google Coupons Become Google Offers

Google Coupons had been the Rodney Dangerfield of Google local products, always hidden, never talked about and for years, after an optimistic start in 2006, they languished.

Until Google removed the ability to easily search for coupons, it was obvious from my annual coupon survey that their y/y usage was declining and by early 2009 Google coupons seemed to be on life support.

They were hidden not just from my research efforts but from the eyes of consumers as well. Here is what I told an SMB poster in the support forum that was searching for his own coupon:

Coupon location is one of the best kept secrets of Google Maps. Even Maps Guide Jen has been known to have trouble locating them. The only entity totally capable of finding them after they have been posted is the GoogleBot. Occassionally they are spotted by humans but only after they have drilled into Maps quite deeply.

Over the past 16 months, the traditionally moribund coupon program has started seeing a slow and erratic rebirth, apparently speeding up over the past few months.

During the spring of 2009, Google actively started cleaning out old coupons from listings and requiring an ending date be applied to all coupons. In August 2009, Google allowed businesses to link directly to their coupons. Last November, Google created an option to show coupons in the mobile environment.

With the introduction of the paid Tags product in June, 2010, a business was able to highlight their coupon in association with their listing.  In July of this year I was actually contacted by a Google Coupon Support person via robo mail to re-up an existing coupon and in September, it became apparent that Google was syndicating coupons from CitySearch. And somewhere in the very recent past Google added a Coupon Guideline Policy that actually requires that the coupon offer something of value in an appropriate way; noting that they could be pulled down particularly if customers complained about fulfillment issues..

Since the nationwide rollout of Tags in June, the ability to surface a coupon on the front page of the Google search results has finally become a (paid) reality, offering coupons their first, real visibility. Of late it has been a tactic that even I have been suggesting to some customers that were considering the use of Tags.

This rebranding, occurring after the extensive Places Search rollout, indicates to me that Google Coupons Offers have finally clawed their way up in the hierarchy of Google Local priorities, have survived their stint in Siberia and are being prepped for the Big Leagues. It is also an obvious “answer” to the recently introduced Facebook Deals.

Exactly what their roll will be remains to seen but starting a new life as Google Offers, it is not beyond reason to think that once Google has enough good inventory, coupons will surface even more widely on both the desktop and mobile.

P.S. I hope that you will forgive the many mixed metaphors and cliches but somehow an article about the ever abused Coupons seemed to warrant digging out every underdog reference from the past 50 years.

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