Google marries social and daily deals with mobile check-in offers

Google is pushing further into daily deals by offering location-sensitive deals when users check-in using the mobile app for its Google+ service. Google confirmed the move after a leaked article described details of merchant support, which has since been removed, and says that it hopes to roll out the feature in the coming days. While Facebook scrapped its check-in deals service earlier this year,  Google will pose a threat to daily deals market leader, Groupon, which  launched a similar location-based mobile deals platform, Groupon Now, in  May.

Google has made a concerted push into the daily deals space since Groupon spurned its USD6bn acquisition offer late last year. The search giant responded to the rejection by launching Google Offers in May, and proceeded to integrate the service with its mobile wallet platform, Google Wallet. Google’s local knowledge and business listings services could help differentiate its service from competitors such as Groupon Now, with the firm’s purchase of local reviews site, Zagat, bolstering its business data and relationships. Google recently opened Google+ to businesses as interest in the social network continues to grow, enabling brands and companies to bolster their online presence and paving the way for check-in deal integration.

The news illustrates the emerging marriage of location and daily deals, as companies in both spaces attempt to boost user engagement and revenues by adding value to their services. In its attempts to prove to critics and investors that it can generate significant revenue, Foursquare linked with a raft of daily deals firms in July, including Gilt City and LivingSocial, to syndicate their deals to its members, before adding Scoutmob and Yipit in recent weeks. Groupon believes real-time, location-sensitive deals are key to driving the space in the coming months, with the firm’s mobile partnerships VP, Michael Shim, forecasting that mobile revenues will account for half of all Groupon’s sales within  two years.

If successful, the platform could become a feather in Google+’s cap, as it attempts to challenge Facebook at the top of the social space. Facebook appeared to be aggressively moving into mobile daily deals earlier this year when it introduced Facebook Places, but halted its efforts as the area became increasingly crowded, with startups desperate to claw market share in what is, for the moment, a lucrative market, though analysts continue to voice reservations about its long-term viability. However, currently the market is thriving, with US revenues increasing 12% to USD266.6m in September, from USD237.8m in the previous month, according Yipit.

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