Google to Offer Printable Local Coupons on Maps
Members of Google’s Local Business Center are getting a surprise just in time to catch the beginning of the 2006 holiday shopping season. Google and direct marketing company Valpak will let local businesses offer printable online coupons alongside Google Maps searches and local business listings.
The system uses Valpak’s online coupon printing system. The coupons can be printed out by a user at home and then redeemed at a local brick-and-mortar store right in that user’s neighborhood. Valpak will provide coupons from its roster of local advertisers with businesses like dry cleaners, doctors, restaurants, mechanics and home re-modelers.
“We’re very pleased to be the launch partner with Google to offer Valpak’s print-at-home online coupons to more consumers and to give Valpak merchants valuable enhanced distribution tied to their existing listing on Google Maps,” said Valpak.com VP Todd Leiser in a statement. “Valpak’s blue envelope has been a North American institution for nearly 40 years and has the type of real consumer value that is perfect to support Google’s mission statement of organizing the world’s information.”
Coupons on Google Maps are free for both businesses and customers. Businesses just add their coupon information into their Google Local Business Center account, where they can also update their Google Map listing, and the coupon appears within a few hours. A business website, though, is not required. Eventually, Google plans to add AdWords support so AdWords advertisers can direct users to their related coupons on Google Maps.
The really effective way for Google to leverage coupons would be to keep them 100% electronic.
They could associate the user’s registered credit card with the user’s interaction with the online coupon. Then, when the user visits the offline store, paying with thier credit card the transaction interoperates with Google’s system, automatically applying the discount to the transaction, which shows on the invoice.
Merchants finally can tie offline sales to online behavior.
Good for online commerce & Google.
Google is looking to do to coupons what Craigslist has done to classifieds; namely leverage free Internet-based distribution to disrupt and cannibalize the market. Valpak has provided Google the critical mass they need to establish themselves as a destination site for coupons and to jump-start their simple self-service coupon offering.
This move really validates the market for online local coupons, which ZiXXo has pioneered. At this point, I believe that the heads of AOL, MSN, Yahoo, IAC, News Corp. et al. are asking what their coupon strategy should be. Google is looking to build a silo of coupons on their site. ZiXXo differs in that we offer a syndication network of online coupons. We are in talks with most of the big guys about leveraging our solution for self-service and syndication, and I expect that this will accelerate those talks.
The offline coupons folks, Valpak, MoneyMailer, ADVO, etc. all need to figure out how they will respond to Google. Again I believe that ZiXXo provides a mechanism to respond to them. We provide the self-service, the API for integration of coupons into content, tracking and reporting, coupon management (e.g. pausing coupons) and more. I believe that Google’s coupon solution will be a shot across the bow of these folks.