Google wanted Groupon. And why wouldn’t they? The “deal-a-day” site had bragging rights with their billion dollar annual revenue stream, and the concept was perfect for pulling in local business owners. But Google’s six billion dollar offer wasn’t enough to sway the company, so the search engine giant has had to look elsewhere to fill this niche. Previously, we reported on Google’s pursuit of Groupon competitors like SocialMe, but it seems that Google may also be trying their own hand in the market.
According to an inside source who chose to remain anonymous, cited first by the Wall Street Journal, Google has opened up multiple offices aimed at getting in touch with local business owners. This insider discussed one office in particular, located in Tempe, Arizona, that sports about 100 phone sales representatives aimed at doing just that.
Oddly, this approach creates some confusion for local businesses. Telemarketers pitching web-based products often sometimes imply, or even lie outright by stating, that they are representatives of Google. So, when Google actually does call local businesses, some are accidentally discarding the call as being from another dishonest sales company.
That’s what Debbie Codino almost did when she got a call from a Google representative. However, when she realized the call really was from a legitimate Google sales rep, she listened to the pitch and gladly invested in an additional advertisement within the local results. This ad highlighted her company and offered a $10 off coupon. You can see exactly how the ad looks yourself by searching for her company, “Bob Brown Tire Center Inc of Portland, OR.” The cost of running this ad was twenty-five dollars per month.
The advertisements are currently limited to the SERP and maps page, but with the recent push for Google Hotpot for local shopping information, it’s entirely possible that the new “local deal” ads will be spreading.