Update: Due to confusing terminology in an e-mail exchange between Google and ClickZ, this story previously reported incorrectly that Google's "Offers" platform had gone live in beta. The following story describes a coupons (Google calls coupons "offers") platform that may in the future tie into the Groupon competitor, which will actually entail pre-paid vouchers.
Google's pre-paid vouchers platform called "Offers" will be available soon, according to reports. In the meantime, local businesses with Google Places accounts can already geo-target coupons - or an "offer," as Google currently describes them - through a self-service platform.
The offers are not "daily deals," per se, of the sort Groupon and LivingSocial offer. They can run for one day or up to a year.
Launching an "offer" is fairly simple. The process involves filling out a handful of form fields, where a marketer can write a headline, sub-head, offer details, add an image and offer code, as well as decide if the promotion should be mobile-only, printable, or both.
There's also a "Billing" section on the platform, where it appears local businesses will pay Google for whatever charges accrued during an Offers campaign. To be clear, merchants without established Places accounts have to fill out a contact form and go through a process that is designed to verify their business's physical location and legitimacy. Once the Places application is approved, they can begin leveraging the offers/coupons.
Meanwhile, here's what the process looks like on the backend:
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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