Google Offers Start Appearing on Maps, Coming to More Properties Soon

Google has started to integrate Groupon-like offers into Google Maps, and it’s not stopping there.

Eric Rosenblum, Google’s director of product management for Google Offers, said consumers will start seeing offers for restaurants, spas and other services on a variety of Google properties soon.

“Any Google properties that have a strong location, social or commerce component are strong candidates,” he said.

Yesterday, Google started off its integration efforts with Google Maps 6.7. Now, consumers who use maps on Android devices will start receiving offers for nearby deals and coupons when conducting a search for a local business.

The announcements also hint at how Google sees the daily deals business evolving, which, as it turns out, is different from either Groupon or LivingSocial.

Rosenblum explained the search company is narrowing in on three types of offers: Daily deals, coupons and rewards.

A daily deal provides a huge discount to the consumer who pays for it upfront. In that scenario, the deal is used as a lead generator and may pull in customers from all across town. In contrast, a coupon is free and may give consumers a couple bucks off their next purchase, providing an additional “nudge” to pick one restaurant over the other.

And, finally, the third approach offers a loyalty program to merchants that will keep consumers returning through the use of rewards. Google’s rewards program is currently being piloted in the Bay Area.

Rosemblum said as the business evolves, merchants will be expected to pay different rates for the three types of services, but in the end, they will all end up with a traditional ad model. Under a cost per action approach, or CPA, merchants will pay Google only after a purchase has been made, and will pay based only on the value of that consumer.

During a trial period, merchants aren’t being charged anything for posting deals on Google Maps, but in the future, Rosenblum said, it’s logical to assume that a prepaid deal, which offers a deep discount and pulls in a customer from across town, will have a higher CPA than a coupon. “A nudge is different,” he said.

One aspect of the announcement yesterday that Rosenblum is completely sold on is delivering deals and offers based on a consumer’s location — it’s why Google isn’t rolling out deals on PC-based maps yet.

In March, LivingSocial announced it was no longer focusing on distributing location-based deals on mobile phones because it wasn’t working.

Rosenblum disagrees: “I think it will take awhile. You have to change consumer behavior, but Google mobile maps is something that people are using anyway. There are people trained on that behavior.”

He added, “This is an area where we will be patient. We are sold on the logic that when you are out and about, that you will be looking for local businesses. … We will continue down this path.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus