Google evidently believes better targeting will turn a deals strategy previously tried - and abandoned - by Facebook into a winner. Mirroring the social network's move in April to aggregate deals through more than 10 partners, Google announced distribution relationships with 14 brands like Kgbdeals, Gilt City, Tippr, and Plum District.
Google is now sending five deals per day to Offers subscribers - some are originating from Google's sales team while others are from the new partners. "Yesterday, you would've only seen one deal there," Nitin Mangtani, group product director for Google Offers, told ClickZ News.
What separates the Mountain View, CA-based company's effort at deals aggregation from Facebook's four-month failure lies in an offers preference center reported earlier this month. Google began testing a segmentation feature that allows people signing up for Google Offers to obtain more personalized deals. People signing up for offers can use a check box to select subcategories within five main categories: things to do, places to go, shopping, health & beauty, and services.
For instance, for things to do, a consumer can select a sporting events subcategory while opting out of arts offers, or vice-versa. The test is over, and the feature has gone live across the deals platform.
"We now have this rich diversity of offers," Mangtani said. "But at the same point, we only want to send the offers that they really care about."
The personalization targeting won't be limited to what consumers see in their email, he said. Mangtani said users of Google's Shopper app will also only see deals that reflect what they opted to receive.
Partners Should Help Google Soften Sales Force Cost
Procuring a boots-on-the-ground national sales force was one of the main obstacles Facebook endured in its brief challenge to daily deals leaders Groupon and LivingSocial. While four-month-old Google Offers seems to have gotten off to a nice start, the same sales force questions still linger.
While the 14 new partners will broker their deals with local merchants that appear via Google Offers, Mangtani wouldn't characterize the development as one meant to circumvent the overhead cost of employing a bigger sales force. He said the initiative has dedicated boots on the ground in each of the 19 markets it's live in so far. (Google plans on adding 23 more markets in the coming months.)
"We have an amazing sales force, and we continue to expand," Mangtani said. "This is not a change in direction there. What we are doing is complementing the kind of deals we can source on our own."
At the same time, Kgbdeals CEO Patrick Albus commented that the aggregation partners like his company will enable Google to quickly ramp up its number of offers without sending cost through the roof. Albus's firm serves 20 U.S. markets and has a sales force of 50 people in addition to a telemarketing operation that outreaches to local merchants.
"I don't know what Google's long-term strategy is," he said. "But by partnering with us, we give them the deals and they can focus on the touchpoints with the consumers."
The other deals partners announced today by Google are ReachDeals, Tippr, Zozi, GolfNow, Dealfind, HomeRun, Juice in the City, Mamapedia, Active.com, DoodleDeals, and Schwaggle. A number of the brands, including Albus's Kgbdeals, were launch partners with Facebook back in April. The CEO sounded optimistic about the Google relationship.
"Partnering with the No. 1 Internet company in the world is a great way for us to grow our footprint," Albus said. "We look forward to having a long and healthy partnership."
Google also unveiled a payment integration utilizing Google Checkout. People who have entered a credit card into Checkout will be able to buy Offers by simply logging into their Google or Gmail account before clicking the purchase button.
Google Offers has in the past couple of weeks expanded to Baltimore, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Jose, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.