October 11, 2011, 2:23 PM

Groupon is transparent about its lack of transparency

The daily deal site no longer shows consumers how many vouchers have sold.

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Groupon Inc. has removed from its product pages the Deal Counter, which reveals how many vouchers the daily deal operator has sold. In its place Groupon now displays a more general figure, such as “Over 310 bought.”

“Instead of showing the exact number of Groupons purchased, the counter is now reduced by a random percentage–sometimes 0.5%, sometimes 19.5%, or anything in between,” a Groupon spokeswoman writes in a blog post.

By displaying less specific information Groupon wants to dissuade analysts from estimating Groupon’s revenue. “Some clever people are using the counter to make (consistently incorrect) estimates of our total company sales, which we don’t like for the same reason you probably wouldn’t like if people tried to guess your weight all day,” according to the blog post. “This change is meant to continue to reflect deal popularity while making it clearly impossible to predict our sales. We’re blogging about it to be transparent about our lack of transparency.”

Groupon’s second quarter 2011 revenue was $392.6 million, up 32.9% from $295.5 in the first quarter, according to its most recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Aside from its filings, daily-deal aggregator Yipit regularly posts estimates about Groupon and other deal operators’ revenue.

Groupon’s move comes days after it reported in its most recent amendment to its initial public offering filing that it will cut back on its marketing expenses, which totaled $345.1 million to attract new customers in the first half of this year and $241.5 million in 2010. Those costs have attracted scrutiny from analysts who have questioned whether that type of spending is viable.

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