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Google optimizes local business coupons for mobile

Google has integrated mobile coupons into its Google Earth and Maps features providing brands the ability to serve location-based deals to consumers.

When a business adds new coupons to its listing in the Local Business Center, the coupons will be available to consumers on mobile devices. To make existing coupons available on mobile devices, the company must edit them by checking a box for mobile distribution.

“We know that coupons are a great way for local businesses to drive customers to their stores – that’s why we created the option for businesses to add coupons to their Google Local Business Center listing back in 2007,” said David Armstrong, software engineer at Google, Mountain View, CA, in a blog post.

“Now, as the holiday shopping season kicks off, we’ve upgraded the ways that customers can find your coupons,” he said.

Last year Google launched the Google Earth application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, and the company recently launched version 2.0 (see story).

When consumers pull up a business listing on their mobile phone, they will see a section that lists the available coupons.

Consumers can then click to find a specially formatted page, which shows all the coupon details they need for redeeming it.

The service is targeted at customers who are on the go, so they can see the values and offers available from local businesses.

Google has also overhauled the printable pages that people visit from a business’s Place Page.

Now every Google coupon customers bring to stores will look the same, helping staffs recognize and redeem them.

In addition to the redesign, Google has made sure that the coupons print out correctly and consistently across all major browsers and operating systems.

Changing the industry with coupons
Howard Wilcox, senior analyst at Juniper Research, Hampshire, England, said that Google’s entry into the mobile-coupon ecosystem will have various impacts.

“In general it raises the profile of mobile coupons amongst the wider population,” Mr. Wilcox said.

Because of how the service was designed, allowing businesses to mobilize their offers with a click, Mr. Wilcox said that it is easy for local businesses to incorporate mobile as a marketing channel.

Mobile has been more of a channel for major brands and retailers, Mr. Wilcox said, but this new service levels the playing field.

Mr. Wilcox said that there will be no changes to the technology, but that there will probably be greater emphasis on location-based coupons services and applications going forward.

The mobile phone is being targeted by marketers as the ultimate personal marketing channel. Mobile phones are almost permanently switched on and almost always physically with the consumer, letting brands and marketing agencies to access potential and existing clients immediately.

Mobile is also a good way to get an immediate decision from consumers.

“Redemption rates for mobile coupons are higher than traditional coupons because the opt-in nature of mobile coupons means that these coupons are more likely to be tuned to the interest area of the consumer,” Mr. Wilcox said.