Category Archives: Google Offers (Coupons)

Google Coupons Continue Their Rise From the Dead



Since their inception, Google Coupons have been invisible to most searchers and offered little value to the SMB. Buried deep within the local listings and no front page exposure, they seemed to be the poor step child of the Google Maps world. Google Coupons are now beginning to be exposed to the the light of day and Google seems to be taking them more seriously. Will they soon be given more prominence?

I just received the following email from Google Coupon Support (who knew that there was actually a person or group that provided Google Coupon Support?):

Hello Mike Blumenthal,

This is to notify you that the following coupons in your Google Places account will expire in 6 days on 7/15/10.

We are sorry to bother you but we thought we’d let you know early, in case you wished to extend their lifetime or replace them. Please visit Google Places to extend the expiry date of your coupons or to replace them with new ones. After expiration, the coupons will no longer be displayed until they are renewed.

Thanks,

Google Coupon Support

(Note to Google: It is no bother, I actually like getting the occasional email from you. Even if the email is automated, it’s nice to at least know someone is at the Coupon switch…although I do find the tone oddly deferential)

Late last year, Google actively started cleaning out old coupons from listings and requiring an ending date be applied to all coupons. In August, Google allowed businesses to link directly to their coupons. Last November, Google created an option to show (but still hidden) coupons in the mobile environment. With the introduction of the paid Tags product, a business is now able to highlight their coupon in association with their listing and it they were ranking for a 7-Pack, it will show in the main SERP results.

And now this email communication reminding me to re-up a my (still nearly invisible) coupon. Google seems to be getting downright chatty in a new, more forward facing way as they start to promote themselves to SMBs.

I have long felt that coupons had a large untapped potential for certain business segments within Maps. It was always annoying to have the feature in place, all dressed but with nowhere to go. It seems, however slowly, that coupons are starting to poke their head out from the netherworlds of the interior of Maps. Perhaps Coupons will in fact rise from the dead within Maps and achieve their promotional potential for SMBs

Google Begins Nationwide Rollout of Tags and Adds New Features


Google Tags on MobileGoogle has just announced at the LatLong Blog, the beginning of a nationwide rollout of Tags, their paid, local listing enhancement. The feature, first tested in early February and rolled out to 11 cities last month, will first be available in the states where they have already had Tags (California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Washington, and Colorado). Google will update this page as additional states go live.

Tags will now also appear on mobile searches and a new Tag type, called Posts, will be available. A Post allows a business owner to create a custom message that can be changed as often as owner would like. This new feature could be used to highlight special discounts or a limited-time offer and seems likely to be popular. It would be more useful if it were allowed to also link back to a web page but maybe now coupons will finally get the exposure they deserve.

At a flat rate of $25/mo per business, Google Maps will have a simple to use paid product in place. Google has noted that 2 million businesses have claimed their listings. If there is even only a 10% adoption rate, it will mean income of $60 million/year for Google. I would guess that the uptake will be higher than that and once one 7-Pack entrant adds a Tag, there will be a certain pressure, logic not withstanding, for others in the 7-pack to do so as well.

Will Google Maps Coupons Rise From the Dead with the New Mobile Option?


Coupons in Google Maps have long been the forgotten step-child with little promotion on the part of Google and even less visibility in Maps and in the main search results. The result has been that they have been of little real value to anyone. Is that about to change?

The Google LatLong just announced that Google has added a new option for Local Business Center users in the US to display their coupons on mobile devices. Additionally, they’ve the display of coupons on your desktop. From the post:

coupons1
“If you add a new coupon to your business listing in Local Business Center, by default it will now be available on mobile devices. To make your existing coupons available on mobile, edit them and check the box for Mobile Distribution, as shown here”:

coupons2
On a mobile device users looking at local business listing will see a section that lists the available coupons which if clicked will present specially-formated page which shows all the coupon details.

While a mobile presentation of the coupon might someday offer a useful and popular coupon redemption means, it appears to me that the Google Maps Coupon will remain hidden from potential users for a while. The coupons also do not show in Google Maps on the iPhone which seems like a 10 foot high barrier to adoption in the mobile world. On the desktop due to Google having buried them deep within the interface and on mobile due to lack of penetration and searcher knowledge.

That being said, if you have a coupon in the LBC it is worth going in and upgrading it to present in the Mobile environment. As part of the upgrade and when you modify the coupon, you will be required to add an end date to the coupon if one was not previously added.

Google LBC: New Link to Coupon Feature Raising Visibility of Coupons?


Despite a deep recession where coupon use is on the rise and an opportunity to make on-line coupons work for a large audience, Google’s Coupon feature has long been the forgotten feature of the Local Business Center.

LBC coupons have been buggy, less than predictable and well, so very hidden from searchers to be of little use to the small business owner and other LBC users. As a result I don’t keep an eye on them much so this new feature allowing coupon creators to more easily link to and promote coupons may have been there for a while.

LBC-coupons

Link-to-coupon

The effort to upgrade the visibility of coupons is of interest to me on several fronts. It seems to indicate that coupons will stay in the LBC mix and that they might just, someday, receive more attention from Google.

However, rather than just providing a link to the coupon, a coupon widget which actually displays the coupon on the originator website would be more valuable option to website owners. That and giving them higher visibility in searches might move coupons from the dark reaches of the Local Business Center out into the real world of local marketing.

On a related note, today is the 2nd anniversary of the introduction of Google Coupons.

Confessions of a Google Enabler: In search of Coupons


Each morning when I rise, I check the RSS feed from the Google Maps Support Forums. I try to answer a few questions from wayward business folks that have no place else to turn. I often feel that in doing so, I am removing from Google the very real burden of providing actual support.

Here is this morning’s helpful response that I gave to a naive business person thinking the Google Coupons might someday be used by a potential customer:

***
Question:
I added a coupon for our various locations yesterday.  The admin center says the coupon is active, but I don’t see the coupon anywhere online?  Where do customers see the coupon?
Thank you.
****
My answer:
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 you have drilled into Maps quite deeply.

-In “Text View” there is a link under the business and there is a tab in the stack detailed view
-In “Map View” select “more info” and then it will show in a tab.
-Links or any other indication of their existence are not visible from the main Google search results page. 

My presumption is that Google is attempting to leave a historical record of life on the planet for distant future archeologists to ponder but that they did not intend for Google Coupons to be used in any manner to which you as a business person or consumer are traditionally accustomed.

Mike B

Google Coupons see Large Decline in Major Markets Amongst SMB’s


There is the old marketing rule of thumb (written of course by marketers) that the time to grab market share is in a down market. The other marketing rule of the thumb is that coupon use goes up in down markets. According to a recent NY Times article In Lean Times, Online Coupons Are Catching On.

Neither adage could be proven by Google Coupon’s lack luster performance compared to last year. Compared to last March, Google Coupons use is down by 31%. Given that the ValPak numbers are roughly the same , one can surmise that self provisioning of coupons by SMB’s in the Local Business Center is the reason for the decline. Given Coupons low visibility and lack of value this is a rational response. Google Coupons is the greatest Google Local idea that has never received the exposure or positioning that they so desperately need. 

Coupon
Search
Total Coupons for search “City”
Nov. ’07
Total for “City
+ Valpak” Nov. ’07
Total Coupons for search “City”
Mar. ’08
Total for “City
+ Valpak” Mar. ’08
Total Coupons for search “City”
Jan. ’09
Total for “City
+ Valpak” Jan. ’09
New York City 536 410 631 268 527 332
San Francisco 580 200 605 162 463 149
Chicago. 519 165 694 139 325 81
Olean, NY 12 1 8 0 14 0
Totals 1647 776 1938 569 1329 562

On a related and somewhat ironic note Greg Sterling at Local Mobile noted that  Top Google Android Engineer Goes to Coupons Inc., where Coupons.com is hiring 40 new employees before the end of February.

Most Read Posts of 2008


Most Read New Articles in 2008

Here are the 10 articles (who picked 10 as the appropriate number, anyways?) written in 2008  that received the most readership during the past year. Readership and traffic have moved up significantly compared to last year, growing along with the broader interest in Local. My Top 10 most read stories of 2008 were viewed a total of 19206 times compared to 11337 Top 10  viewings in the 2007. Pageviews and visits increased ~107% year over year.  As you can see from the numbers on these, the most popular articles, my readership is still a niche. 

But Local is a a growing & exciting niche and one where much of the future of the internet lays. On this blog I write to the professionals and aficionados within that niche. That allows me to interact with the many people in the Local space that are forging much of what Local will be. It has been an incredibly fun year meeting and engaging those Localites in person, on the phone and on my blog. To these many folks that have shared their ideas with me and the readers of this blog, sent me visitors and contributed to the local space I say: Thanks for a great year & thanks for helping me understand and learn as much as I have!

Article Title Original Date of Publication Times Read
Microsoft Listing in Google Maps Hijacked! oops by me
2008/10/30 4867
Google Maps to provide complete voter information for upcoming election 2008/09/20 2579
Google Maps: New Local 10 Pack Now Live 2008/01/22 2124
Google Maps: Category Mystery Now solved (Part 3) 2008/02/07 1407
Google Maps Announces Quality Guidelines and Reinclusion Option 2008/09/16 1339
Google Plus box: Where Does the Wrong Data Come from 2008/03/06 1218
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/06/13 1183
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/08/04 1141
Google Maps: KML for Authority and Ranking 2008/08/07 1042
Google Maps now Using TeleAtlas Data Exclusively 2008/09/19 900

 

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years

Articles in the blogosphere often have a very short shelf life. Sometimes, you spend countless hours in research and writing an article and it seems to barely cause a blip in the scheme of things at the time it is published. The 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm was one such article. But it manages to find readers 18 months after it was written and it still has relevance. Here are the 5 stories from a time long, long ago that were the most read this year

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years Original Date of Publication Times Read
10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm 2007/02/16 2101
First Case of Large Scale Abuse at Google Maps 2007/07/27 1247
Which On-line Directories Provide Details to Google Maps 2006/11/21 908
Google Coupons Now has Searchable Interface 2007/10/27 883
Extraneous Results from the Restaurant Review Research 2006/12/14 709

In the Trenches: the reality of SMB Marketing- Bruce’s Sew Handy Interview


The Local Search Marketing industry is in its infancy. The following interview covers the good, the bad and the reality of SMB Marketing and how far there is still yet to go for SMB’s to take advantage of its power. 

Chuck Bruce of Bruce’s Sew Handy, caught my attention when he gave a testimonial for Merchant Circle in the November email newsletter that MC sent out. I was curious if he was for real or just another Merchant Circle marketing fabrication so I gave him a call. In the third week of November, we had an extensive conversation about his market, marketing strategies, his relationship with online local listing services and the tough economic times that he is suddenly confronting. To use one of Chuck’s phrases, he is a stand up guy.

Continue reading

Google Maps Kiosks found in the wild


Martijn Beijk has spotted Google Maps embedded in an ATM kiosk in Barcelona, Spain.

These Google Maps kiosks were widely reported on last fall when gasoline pump maker Gilbarco Veeder-Root announced that they would be included in a new generation of gas pump.

At the time, there was a coupon feature included that was supposed to feature local merchants. These coupons were positioned as a potential revenue generator for the local gas station. To my knowledge, these have not been spotted in the wild. This kiosk is using the API and only showing their other locations.

Has anyone spotted other Google Maps Kiosks?

Google Maps: Interview with Carter Maslan


At the end of last week, after the upgrade and bug fixes to the LBC were mostly finished, Carter Maslan, Product Manager for Google Maps, took time to speak with me about the upgrade. You may read the full interview at SearchEngineland.

His main points:
• The upgrade was intended to improve the UI to faciliate flow through the data entry process
• They do read the Groups messages and the Local Blogs but did not have time to respond the many reports as they were trying to get the upgrade out the door and finished
• There will be a European version once the kinks are worked out of the US/Canada/Australian version and localization is finished
• There will be some sort of trusted status going forward for higher volume, trusted LBC users.
• Coupons will continue to languish

Read the whole interview here: Carter Maslan On Google’s Local Business Center Upgrade