In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The daily deal service will offer discounts of at least 50% off.
Google Inc. appears ready to enter the daily-deal arena.
The search giant has launched a page that enables consumers in Portland, OR, New York City and the San Francisco Bay area to sign up for Google Offers, its version of the daily deal marketing vehicle that will feature discounts of at least 50% off purchases.
The service, which Google notes is in beta testing, will initially roll out in Portland, OR, before expanding to New York and the San Francisco Bay area.
“We picked Portland because it’s a city known for its unique local businesses, great restaurants, interesting places and a thriving, active community,” says Google in the Offers’ help page.
Google has not posted when it will begin e-mailing its offers to consumers who sign up for the service. However, the help section says: “We’re working hard to get Google Offers up and running in Portland. Soon you’ll start receiving e-mails with great local offers if you have signed up with Google Offers.”
Google Offers dovetails with Google’s other locally focused initiatives, such as its recent enhancement of its Product Search comparison shopping engine that allows consumers to check whether a product is in stock at local stores. “Offers is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new services that give consumers great deals while helping connect businesses with customers in new ways,” a Google spokeswoman says.
Google initially attempted to enter the daily deal space by acquiring market leader Groupon Inc. However, in December Groupon rejected Google’s offer, reportedly worth $6 billion.
Now Google is entering an increasingly crowded space as Groupon and its main rival LivingSocial continue gaining market share and Facebook readies plans to leverage the power of the social web with its Facebook Deals offering. Plus, Groupon’s success has spawned hundreds of smaller competitors, including several that aggregate offers from many daily-deal operators.
The rapidly growing online daily-deal industry could generate up to $2.67 billion in sales in 2011, according to a recent report by Local Offer Network Inc., which sells advertising and technology services to group-buying sites.