Category Archives: Google Offers (Coupons)

Google Boost Bid Pricing Will Baffle the SMB

Google’s Boost advertising product was meant to be a dead simple way for a small business that had claimed their Places listing, to place a locally highlighted ad onto the front page of Google. It is simple to get started and in some situations, where the targeting is accurate and the price per click is reasonable, it can be a very effective advertising product. In a  very limited sample size it has worked to the clear benefit of the business about 50% of the times that I have tried it.

But the simplicity of the system hides a deeper complexity in pricing that is sure to confuse and anger most SMBs sooner or later: the bid pricing. These two screen shots tell the tale.

Up until June 15th, this campaign was generating click throughs at a reasonable cost. However somewhere along the line (neither the charts, nor the product interface make this explicit nor discoverable), the cost per click jumped from $4.68 a click to over $20, rapidly running through the budget and it resulted in the ad stop being displayed.

A call to a Boost support person (a 1+ to Google on providing phone support to all SMBs) indicated that “there was probably some external event had caused the bid for the ad to go up rapidly”. A review of the Boost help files made no mention of  the fact that the pricing was bid dependent. In fact there no explanation AT ALL of pricing and how it is determined. Simple all right, too simple by half.

This lack of transparency on pricing will be a death knell of the product in the SMB market. What small business person would be happy with 4x price hike that occurs unannounced? What small business person understands the possibility of a bidding war taking the ad offline? What small business person wouldn’t be surprised that an ad that had been working well for the previous 3 months suddenly went in the toilet? And what small business person, when he called Google was told “there was probably some external event had caused the bid for the ad to go up rapidly”, would be a happy, educated camper?

Here is the screen shot of the preceding month for comparison. It is very similar to what the client saw in the account for the previous 3 months:
Continue reading Google Boost Bid Pricing Will Baffle the SMB

Google Offers Rolls Out in NYC And Promises Expansion to Other US Cities

It has been clear from day one that the Google Offers daily deals were coming to both San Francisco and New York City. We just didn’t know when. THe NYC daily offers started this AM with 3 offers, one each from NYC Downtown, NYC Midtown and NYC Uptown. The deals rolled out in NYC are all moderately priced at $10/50% off and are for food ( Belgian fries, chocolates and cupcakes). Like the more recent deals in Portland, Google is no longer making explicit how many of the deals are available.

The Offers page suggests that Offers are now also available from Oakland and San Francisco although no deals were yet to be found for those cities.

And in an apparent expansion, Offers will soon be available in Austin, Boston, Denver, DC and Seattle:

T

Google Testing Coupons in Adwords

@Webmanagementus of Web Management pointed out this Tracfone Adwords ad that includes a Coupon attached to the ad. I had not seen this previously although Greg Sterling had reported on seeing them in the wild on SEL last week. It clearly indicates Google’s desire to expand the roll of coupons as a revenue generator. It is an obvious fit for local for both Boost and Adwords with location extensions although this current test is obviously neither:

 

Coupons have had a long a tortuous life at Google. They were introduced in late 2006 and but left to languish for a number of years before seeing some activity in late 2009 and through 2010 with the Tags Beta. 2010 culminated with the failed effort to purchase Groupon.

2011 on the other hand has seen lots of other activity on the coupon front for Google. Besides the new Adwords coupon test first seen last week, rumors of Google Offers, their Groupon competitor, first surfaced in January, with a full blown Offers beta rolling out June 1 in Portland. Google also first rolled out Latitude Check-In Offers at SXSW in March with a limited national test in April. They cancelled the Tags product in April as well. Roll out early, iterate often and shit can anything that doesn’t generate enough profit seems to be the coupon approach.

Here is a chart of Google’s current free, paid and cancelled products…

Type Coupon First Seen In Wild
Places – Free Places Offers 07/2006
7-Pack Tags Coupon Tags Test Cancelled 2/2010 – 4/2011
Latitude -Location Based Check In Offers – Test 3/2011
Adwords -Ad Based Pay Per Coupon – Test 6/13/2011
Daily Deal Deal Offers – Portland Beta 6/1/2011

Much like the trend on Places for links on Google to head off to other Google properties, this new product takes you to a Google page. Continue reading Google Testing Coupons in Adwords

Google Hiring Offer’s Field Sales Staff in 17 Major U.S. Markets

There have been questions about Google’s desire and willingness to ramp up face to face sales in local markets. Their attempted acquistion of Groupon seemed be to focused on a quick development of an on-the-ground, locally focused sales team. Discussions about their early efforts and ability to succeed in selling local revolve around this question. Last week’s job postings indicated that they were looking for new hires in Seattle for “Commerce Sales team [members which will] play a critical role in growing Google’s new Commerce related businesses, such as Google Offers, through large-scale SMB acquisition programs.”

Today while searching the Google Jobs posting for similar positions (Field Rep, Field Sales Manager, First Sales Team Lead & Head of Field Sales for Commerce Sales) I found at least 64 Offers postings for the following cities:

I guess that puts to rest the question of whether Google is developing a local sales presence.

Google Offers 2 Weeks On – The Local Vantage Point

Not being well versed in the deals arena I wanted to better understand Google’s baby steps with their Offers product. I turned to a number of respected folks, that have more experience in the field than I to get their sense of Google’s progress in their newest local effort. Here is the discussion thread from earlier in the week where Greg SterlingJim MoranSebastien ProvencherDavid MihmSol OrwellRocky Argawal and Andrew Shotland gave their impressions of Google’s efforts to date based on these sales numbers in Portland.

Google Offer’s Beta in Portland started on June 1 and there have been 12 deals through the first two weeks of June. Google seems to be serious in their committment to the market. They are putting feet on the ground in Portland and elsewhere, including NYC. They have started hiring sales staff for a direct sales team for Offers and other local endeavors. But it would seem that getting from here to there (wherever there is) is no small task.

Here is a summary of the deals to date and projected dollar amount generated for Google for the past 2 weeks:

Date Co./URL Deal % off Purchase 

Window

Avail. Sold % Sold Total Dollar Value Google’s Proj. Take @50%
6/1 Floyd’s Coffee $3 for $10 work of food 70% 15 hrs 2000 1709 85% $5127 $2563
6/2 Uptown Billiards $10 for $200 worth of Pool 50% 15 hrs 500 95 19% $950 $475
6/3 Karam Lebansese $8 for $16 of Lebanese Food 50% 15 hrs 500 500 100% $4000 $2000
6/4 Celebrity Tan $10 for $39 Spray Tan 74% 39 hrs NA 157 NA $1570 $785
6/6 Portland Pedicab $45 for a $90 3 brewery pub tour 50% 23 hrs 700 26 4% $1170 $585
6/7 Le Bistro Montage $4 for $10 of Cajun-style Brunch 60% 23 hrs 2000 706 39% $2824 $1412
6/8 Mt. Tabor Dental $59 for a $421 dental package 85% 23 hrs 300 51 17% $3009 $1504
6/9 Malu Day Spa $30 for a $75 spa package 60% 23 hrs 600 39 7% $1170 $585
6/10 Mississippi Studios & Bar Bar $7 for $20 towards food, drinks or an advance show ticket 65% 23 hrs 5000 1189 24% $8323 $4161
6/11 Fulcrum Fitness $45 for one month of unlimited boot camp sessions f($254 value) 82% 47 hrs 500 83 17% $3735 $1867
6/13 Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade $1 for admission to Free Play Night (a $5 value) plus a $5 food and drinks credit 90% 23 Hrs 750 750 100% $750 $375
6/14 il Piatto $15 for $30 worth of locally inspired Italian food and drinks (deal ends at 3 PM) 50% 33 Hrs 1500 504 50% $7650 $10175

3780

Totals 11350 5821 51% $40278 $20139 at 50% 

$14097 at 35%

Avg 946 485 $3356 $1678

Is this first two weeks a success? Is it an abject failure? Does it just point out how far Google has to go before they are successful? Here’s what Greg SterlingJim MoranSebastien ProvencherDavid MihmSol OrwellRocky Argawal and Andrew Shotland had to say:

Continue reading Google Offers 2 Weeks On – The Local Vantage Point

Google Hiring Sales Staff in Seattle for Large Scale SMB Acquisition

Thanks to Chris Reilly of Unleashed Online Marketing for this heads up. Google has posted job openings for Sales Manager and Sales Reps for the Seattle area apparently to focus on “Google’s new Commerce related businesses, such as Google Offers, through large-scale SMB acquisition programs“.

From the Sales Manager listing:

The area: Business Operations and Strategy, Commerce Sales

The Commerce Sales team plays a critical role in growing Google’s new Commerce related businesses, such as Google Offers, through large-scale SMB acquisition programs. Our culture mirrors that of a start-up, as we’re working to create and scale Google’s next billion dollar businesses. We are a group of high-performing, like-minded team players that thrive on individual autonomy, product mastery and operational excellence.

The role: Field Sales Manager, Commerce Sales

As a Field Sales Manager, Commerce Sales, you will not only be responsible for managing Field Sales Reps in a few different markets, but also may be called upon to drive sales while the team is scaling. Your team will be selling Google’s Commerce solutions into the small and medium size business segment. You will develop knowledge of account representatives’ performance, effectiveness, and proficiency through ongoing direct and indirect coaching methods.

Responsibilities:

  • Be responsible for the entire sales process from first contact to close
  • Effectively manage sales pipeline and develop a strategy for long-term client relationships.
  • Understand the marketing needs of SMBs.
  • Present and articulate advanced product features.
  • Close sales and achieve monthly targets.

Requirements:

  • Bachelors degree preferred and/or equivalent work experience.
  • At least 2 years field/outside sales experience, daily deals space preferred.
  • Proven success in cold calling and field sales.
  • Strong communication skills and ability to secure new clients by presenting customized solutions.
  • Strong knowledge of SMBs advertising needs.
  • Extremely proactive and organized with a track record of success in a team environment.
  • Proficiency with Salesforce.com preferred.

Google Offers Beta – Status Update

Google Offer’s Beta in Portland started on June 1 and there have been 5 deals in total to this point. Here is a summary of the deals to date:

Date Co./URL Deal % off Purchase 

Window

Avail. Sold
6/1 Floyd’s Coffee $3 for $10 work of food 70% 15 hrs 2000 1709
6/2 Uptown Billiards $10 for $200 worth of Pool 50% 15 hrs 500 95
6/3 Karam Lebansese $8 for $16 of Lebanese Food 50% 15 hrs 500 500
6/4 Celebrity Tan $10 for $39 Spray Tan 74% 39 hrs NA 157
6/6 Portland Pedicab $45 for a $90 3 brewery pub tour 50% 23 hrs 700 26
6/7 Le Bistro Montage $4 for $10 of Cajun-style Brunch 60% 23 hrs 2000 706
6/8 Mt. Tabor Dental $59 for a $421 dental package 85% 23 hrs 300 51
6/9 Malu Day Spa $30 for a $75 spa package 60% 23 hrs 600 39
6/10 Mississippi Studios & Bar Bar $7 for $20 towards food, drinks or an advance show ticket 65% 23 hrs 5000 1189
6/11 Fulcrum Fitness $45 for one month of unlimited boot camp sessions f($254 value) 82% 47 hrs 500

Other than the first deal at Floyd’s the volume has been very low to moderate. On the ground anecdotal evidence indicated that Floyd’s was not that busy so it is not unlikely that being the first deal, that many of the offers purchased were by those in the industry assessing Google’s product. I guess Floyd’s won’t mind. Rocky Agrawal also noted that “the early ones get benefit of local press. All 4 tv stations and newspapers covered the story.”

In a conversation with one of the participants they shared with some interesting factoids:
– They were paying Google 50% of the proceeds. “Same as Groupon”. It doesn’t appear that the value of deals will improve anytime soon.
– The rep servicing the account did visit but is stationed in Los Angeles NOT in Portland
– Google Offers Business Sales and Support has a forward facing number – 866-954-5152

Replicating Groupon’s success will not be quick and it will not be easy for Google. Not only do you need a sales force but you need a great list of subscribers and popular businesses willing to give incredible discounts. Clearly Google is not anywhere near there yet if you take the sales number as an indicator. How long it will take will be interesting to see.

Highlights from the Google Offer Business Help Files

The help files for Google Offers have also been expanded to now include actual details about the program. I have abstracted some of the highlights:

Participation Requirements

  • To participate in Google Offers, you … should be financially stable, and must have positive customer reviews.

Concerns about meeting demand

Google will pay you 80% of your share 4 days after your offer purchase period ends.

Changing scheduled dates and canceling live offers

Once an offer is scheduled, there is very little flexibility to make changes to your start date

Once an offer is live, you won’t be able to cancel or make changes to the details, copy or terms

Offers selection and scheduling

How you’re notified if your offer is selected

In most cases, you’ll be notified at least 5 days before your offer is scheduled to run. In rare circumstances, we may choose to run your offer a few days earlier. The offer will have been approved by you beforehand, so the only difference would be that the offer is advertised 2 days earlier than scheduled. We’ll notify you if this is to happen.

We have an Editorial team that will help create the copy and any creative materials associated with your offer, with information that you provide. You will be able to review the offer and must give your final approval before it goes live for sale.

Creating and customizing Google Offers

Offer customization

You can customize many aspects of a Google Offer for your business. Here are just a few of the elements you can specify for your offer:

Number of offers a customer can purchase
Offer redemption period
Amount of discount on the offer
Store locations where the offer may be redeemed

Payments and refunds for Google Offers

Receiving payments for your offer sales

We will help you set up a special account with us, where you will enter your bank account information. Google will automatically initiate proper payouts per terms you’ve agreed to. Once a payment has been initiated, your bank may take up to three additional business days to register the payout in your bank account.

Payout schedules

Generally speaking, you’ll receive a payout for 80% of your sales approximately 4 days after your offer runs, minus any refund requests that have been processed. Google will hold the remaining 20% for a specified number of days to cover any refunds that may be processed during that period.

Refunds for Google Offers

Customers may request a refund from Google for an unused offer within 60 days of purchase for any reason. After 60 days, Google issues refunds in accordance with applicable local law and/or at our discretion. Refunds may be deducted from your account per agreed upon terms.

Offer redemption options

A customer will need to print a paper voucher or show a mobile version of the purchased offer that includes the barcode or redemption code to the business. The redemption code is directly below the barcode on the voucher.

Redemption options

There are three main types of redemption you can utilize in order for your customers to cash in on their purchase.

  1. Redemption via the Google Offers Business Dashboard
    You are able to enter in the redemption codes within your Offers account. To get the codes, you may accept a printed version of the offer or allow your customer to bring up the code on their mobile device. If you don’t enter the codes in individually at the time of purchase, we recommend entering all codes by the end of the day.
  2. Google Offers Toll Free Phone System (not yet available)
    Using a special toll-free number, your customers will be able to enter their redemption code through the phone.
  3. Google Offers Mobile Business Ap
    The merchant redemption app for Android is a simple application that allows you to scan barcodes from a printed offer or from another mobile device’s screen. 

    • Sign in to the mobile app with your Google Offers account
    • Select ‘Barcode Scanner’ to scan a barcode or choose ‘Manual Entry’ to manually type in the redemption code
    • The app will confirm whether or not the Offer code is valid
    • Click the button to redeem the Offer*
      *If you ever scan the barcode again or type in the same code, the Offer will no longer be valid

Google Offers Program Policies

The policies note a range of items that can not be promoted via Offers and includes range of products and services such as tobacco, firearms and hacking


First Google Offer Hits in Portland: 70% off at Floyd’s Coffee Shop

The first Google Offer from Portland just hit my inbox.

Here are the rules for the offer of the day:

Rules that apply to all Google Offers of the Day

In addition to the specific terms listed for each offer, these are the rules that apply to all Google Offers, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

  • Cannot be used in conjunction with other coupons, special offers or special discounts.
  • Cannot be applied toward shipping fees, tips or gratuities, taxes, or outstanding balances owed.
  • Promotional value must be redeemed in one (1) visit. No cash back for partial redemption of promotional value.
  • After redemption period, all vouchers may be refundable or redeemable for paid amount.
  • All Google Offers are only available in accordance with applicable law.
  • You must be of legal drinking age to redeem a Google Offer for alcohol.

How to be a great Google Offers customer

  • Calculate your gratuity/tip from of the full value of the product/service, not the discounted amount.
  • Note the redemption period. Businesses will expect you to show up between those dates and will staff up accordingly so you have the best experience.
  • Tell us what you thought. Go to www.google.com/hotpot to rate the business.

Google now has help files for both businesses and consumers online.

Google Places Mobile: Is a Broad Rollout of Check-In Offers Imminent?

In early March, Google rolled out Check In offers as a feature for Latitude in Austin. In April the feature was additionally made available to national retailers like Radio Shack and Quiznos.

The feature was not made generally accessible to most retailers. At the time I inquired of Google when it would be available more widely and if it was free or paid. Google provided their all too frequent “We’ll let you know if and when we have more details to share” response.

I managed to uncover some additional Mobile Check-Ins details in this recent Google Places Help Page:
Continue reading Google Places Mobile: Is a Broad Rollout of Check-In Offers Imminent?