Even though I’m quoted in some of the stories about the Google Maps coupons announcement I was on vacation when the announcement formally happened so I didn’t see the implementation. (Let me tell you how surreal it was taking calls on the beach on Monday.)Much has been written by others on this already so I’ll be brief:
- This deal is important for ValPak, which can now sell Google distribution to local merchants. But it also poses dangers in the long run – similar to those all Google’s partners face
- Consumers will search Maps for coupons. I found my local pizza place there and will go back for similar offers in the future. Word of mouth and serendipitous discovery will take care of the consumer side of the equation. This is a differentiator for Google Maps from Yahoo, Windows Live Local and MapQuest. (Yahoo! Local has allowed merchants to point to offers or coupons for some time but doesn’t have coupon creation per se. Yahoo! Local also isn’t a coupon “destination” as Google Maps has now potentially become.)
- Coverage is an issue: 20K coupons from ValPak to start is strong but gets thin at the individual community level. So self-service will need to kick in to make this a truly rich user experience
- Self-service: the coupon creation process is very simple, which suggests businesses will use it. But it’s still a little buried. Google can still do more to promote this
- Re the “threat to newspapers”: This does not increase the threat to the printed product and people don’t go to newspaper sites for coupons today. Accordingly it does potentially threaten the ability of newspapers to translate their offline value proposition online.
- Zixxo becomes something of the white-label anti-Google here for those who now believe they need to offer coupons to compete. Certainly ValPak would do more of those distribution deals too.