Hmm? How do you prove to local merchants who lack tracking software or even web sites that search converts? Coupons! That's right, the conversion tracking tool that requires no internet connection, cookies or software has come to Google Maps.
Google provides more information on how merchants can get going with coupons at its local business center here (for those logged in with a Google Account). They're available for free to anyone with a local business listing on Google Maps.
How do you get those free local listing? Easy. If you're logged into Google, provide your real-world location information here (for the US, UK, Canada, China & Japan). Then a letter will get sent to that location with a PIN to verify your listing. Once that's added, you can assign coupons to your locations.
To kick things off, Google's already seeded the maps with coupons through a partnership with Valpak, as described more in the press release below. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any live and in the wild. It would have been nice if there was a feature added to Google Maps to search and indicate you want to see only businesses offering coupons. Heck, I don't even see consumer-facing help information about coupons offered yet at Google Maps.
Here are some details from press stories:
Google to distribute discount coupons on mapping service: From the San
Jose Mercury News, it provides a bit more detail about the Valpak partnership.
Google Maps offers discount coupons for US stores: From Reuters, some
details on how this might challenge coupon rivals such as
CoolSavings. I'd say it's not going
to be much of a challenge unless a feature to easily find coupons at Google is
offered. Hunt-and-hope browsing for them isn't going to cut it.
- New at Google: Local Coupons: From the New York Times, has some quotes from Google on how this is intended to help small businesses who might lack web sites.
And here's the Google press release:
Print and Save – Coupons on Google Maps
Today, Google announced printable online coupons on Google Maps. When searching for local information, discount coupons from businesses are now displayed on Google Maps search results and business listing pages. These coupons can be printed out directly from a computer and redeemed at a physical store location of a neighborhood or local business. For users of Google Maps, coupons provide additional relevant business information and ultimately contribute to a better local search experience. For businesses, coupons provide another way to reach customers online.
Google has partnered with Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, to provide coupons from current Valpak advertisers on Google Maps. These coupons include savings from local businesses throughout the United States including dry cleaners, dentists, vets, pizza places, car washes, oil changes, handymen and home remodelers. New coupons from Valpak advertisers are added on a nightly basis to ensure the most recent offers are available immediately to consumers.
Coupons are available in Google Maps at no cost to businesses and consumers. Businesses simply need to log into the Local Business Center at Google Maps to enter in coupon information www.google.com/local/add. In addition, businesses can easily add or update their local business listings on Google Maps from the Local Business Center. Once coupon information is entered, the coupon is displayed on Google Maps within hours. Businesses do not need a web site to participate.
"We're very pleased to be the launch partner with Google to offer Valpak's print-at-home online coupons to more consumers and to give Valpak merchants valuable enhanced distribution tied to their existing listing on Google Maps." said Todd Leiser, Vice President and General Manager for Valpak.com, Valpak's online coupon portal. "Valpak's blue envelope has been a North American institution for nearly 40 years and has the type of real consumer value that is perfect to support Google's mission statement of organizing the world's information".
In addition, Google AdWords advertisers can use coupons through the Local Business Center. In the coming months, AdWords advertisers will be able to drive traffic to their coupons on Google Maps. By driving additional traffic to their coupons the advertiser can reach more customers.
To find a coupon for a business in your neighborhood please visit www.maps.google.com. For businesses who want to try coupons on Google Maps please visit www.google.com/local/add.
Postscript: Mike Buckley's gotten one of the ads going and describes the process over here. The coupons don't actually appear in the pop-up box on the map, as I thought. Instead, try this search. Look to the left-hand side, at the textual listings. See the word "Coupons >>" under each listing. Click on one like this, and you'll see how coupons are listed for display.