It looks as if Facebook and Groupon are getting ready to compete hard in the group-deal market.
Facebook signaled its plans when it upgraded its Deals landing page recently to tout new services that look a lot like Groupon's. Facebook users will be able to share deals with friends and get messages on deals through mobile apps while they're on the go.
The landing page includes a prominent "Offer a Deal for your business" link directed at merchants, promising benefits of Facebook Deals, including: "Let Facebook do the marketing. Team up with our specialists who will be with you every step of the way to market your business on Facebook."
Uh-oh... Is Facebook after your job?
The "Offer a Deal" page includes a form that marketers can fill out to be contacted by a Facebook rep. The form includes a space for your Facebook fan page.
Facebook says it will specialize in offering deals that can be shared among friends: "You won’t get your legs waxed with friends," Emily White, Facebook’s director of local operations, told the Financial Times. "You dine out, you go to concerts, you do outdoor activities. We want to make sure those experiences are maximised."
(You don't get waxed with friends? Somebody hasn't seen The 40-Year-Old Virgin.)
I signed up for the Deals updates, and the process illustrates the power of what Facebook has to offer. A consumer signing up with a deal service elsewhere has to enter his or her demographic information -- at minimum, email address and location -- and then verify receipt of the email. But Facebook Deals sign-up was three clicks, no typing, because Facebook already has the deal information.
Easy sign-up will bring consumers in, and consumers will make Facebook Deals attractive to marketers.
Facebook Deals are initially offered in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, and Atlanta, according to Inside Facebook.
Previously, Deals were only available to users of Facebook's Places location-sharing service, which displays offers from local merchants, but only when the users are physically near those merchants.
Groupon is fighting back, cutting a deal with AdParlor to manage Groupon's entire advertising spend on Facebook (so even if Facebook loses this battle, it wins). These will include generic ads to get people to sign up to Groupon, as well as targeted ads for specific deals.
AdParlor specializes in Facebook advertising, saying it works with the biggest advertisers on that social network, managing more than 15 billion monthly impressions. It integrates Groupon's API with the Facebook Ads API and will target ads to Facebook users as soon as a deal goes live.
"Let’s hope – for Groupon’s sake in particular – that the startup does a better job at not randomly throwing around Botox ads left and right," quips TechCrunch.
Local deals are hot. Google tried and failed to buy Groupon in December, then started its own local coupon service. Amazon invested $175 million in the coupon site, LivingSocial. And FourSquare expanded its Specials feature last week.
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site
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