The good folks over at ClickZ just posted a story with the following headline: “Google’s Version of Groupon is Live: How it Works.” Problem is, that is simply not true. The image in the article – reproduced below – is from the Google Places interface which has allowed vendors to offer coupons for a long time now. This tab used to be called “Coupons” at one point in the past.
Update: A friend pointed me to places.google.com/offers, a URL mentioned in the ClickZ article that includes the following text:
“If you want to create a Google Offer today on your Google Places listing, you can either login to your existing Google Places account and click on the Offers tab. In addition, to learn how to create a Google Places listing please start here.”
As far as I can see (and I have a Google Places account), the Places interface makes no mention of daily deals-like offers yet. Instead, this is currently just the standard interface for creating printable and mobile coupons. Given this landing page, though, the company is clearly gearing up to launch Google Offers soon.
It is also worth noting that the material that Google sent out to a few select merchant did not point to a self-serve operation like the current coupon-creation system on Google Places. Instead, Google plans a full service Groupon-like setup where Google’s “writing team will craft a compelling write-up for you offer” and guide merchants through the process from beginning to end. Chances are that the interface is live for a select group of merchants that Google has selected as beta testers. The process for creating these offers will surely be very different from the system ClickZ describes in its article, however.
The “Offers” tab in the Google Places administrative interface for local merchants allows companies to show coupons on their place pages and on Google Maps. That’s it. You can find Google’s guidelines for these coupons here.
Maybe Google will use a similar interface for its Groupon clone – and chances are that this clone will also be available in the same interface. The current interface has been there for a long time, however, and unless Google was planning to clone Groupon before that company had ever launched, there is basically no connection here.