Google Offers, the company’s not-so-secret coupon program, is taking signups in three areas: New York City, San Francisco/Oakland and Portland, Oregon.
Users can subscribe to get discounts via email in any or all of those available cities. After signing up, Google’s confirmation promises “regular emails” — which sounds like not necessarily “daily” — with discounts of “50% off or more.” My guess is that the frequency of emails will depend on how many local businesses join the program. But for now, it sounds like Google Offers is only accepting signups, and the discounts aren’t quite ready yet:
Thanks for subscribing to Google Offers BETA – San Francisco! We’re excited that you’ve joined us as we partner with some of the best local businesses in your area to bring you great deals at 50% off or more.
Once Google Offers is available in San Francisco we’ll send you regular emails letting you in on amazing offers in your area.
We’ll be in touch.
– The Google Offers Team
Google is also collecting email addresses from users elsewhere who want to be notified if/when Offers is available in their hometown.
The service is obviously designed to compete with Groupon, Living Social and other social buying sites. Here’s a sample offer that was circulated a couple months ago from Google’s promotional material for the Offers service.
It’ll be interesting to watch this program roll out and get integrated into Google’s existing local offerings. New York City and the Bay Area are obvious choices based on size; Portland is much smaller, but Google has apparently been quite successful engaging the local business community there since it started promoting Hotpot with a “feet on the ground” marketing team.
There were numerous rumors late last year that Google was trying to buy Groupon, with price estimates ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion; Groupon eventually rejected Google’s overtures.
On a related note, Groupon has reportedly hired away a Google executive today to take over as its new COO.
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.