September 2, 2011, 2:00 PM

Google gives over home page real estate to its daily deal offering

Google’s home page features a link for discounts designed for New York consumers.

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Hoping to promote its daily deal offering, Google Inc. has for the first time toyed with its home page’s famously sparse and clutter-free look by adding a link for Google Offers, the search giant’s entry into a space dominated by Groupon and LivingSocial.

Consumers this week in New York City who visited Google.com saw an offer immediately below the white box where consumers type their search inquires. The offer, for “$25 American Museum of Natural History tickets for $5,” was followed by a purple link to “See today’s Google Offer.” When a consumer clicked on the link he was taken to a Google Offers page that gave more details about the promotion, including its redemption period.

“We occasionally include a link on the Google home page that points users to important information, whether it be about a relevant cause, a new product or an offer,” says a Google spokeswoman. “We believe that users can benefit from learning about great deals from local organizations.”

While Google features Offers in three other markets—Portland, OR, San Francisco and Oakland/East Bay—it has featured the home page Offers link only in New York City.

Google Offers’ home page says the daily deal offering is “coming soon” to 32 additional markets, including Boston, Chicago, Houston and Washington, DC. While the spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific timing of those launches she says that Google has committed to launching in those markets in the near future.

Google’s increased daily deal push comes amid a rapidly changing landscape for the online discounts. Facebook Inc., which launched its Deals program around the same time as Google rolled out Offers in Portland, recently abandoned the service to refocus its efforts on offering local businesses other marketing opportunities.  Meanwhile, recent signs suggest that consumers are becoming bored with the daily deal model. For instance, traffic to the more than 50 daily deal sites tracked by Experian Hitwise is down 25% as of Aug. 26 from its peak in the second week of June.

And Groupon, whose traffic has fallen nearly 50% as of Aug. 26 since the second week of June, recently lost one of its main communications executives. The move came just before Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, in a widely leaked memo sent to staff last week, challenged the company’s critics despite the company being in a quiet period ahead of its initial public offering.

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