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Google abandons tradition to bring you this Important Voucher

Coupon coup draws Offers scoffers

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Google's reputation for sound judgement took a serious knock last year when it emerged it was mulling a $6bn bid for Groupon. The web voucher sensation is running on exhaust, and racing towards an IPO before faith and cash reserves expire. Legal issues lurk beneath the surface, and Groupon needs merchant partners to keep buying into the idea – and that depends on long-term conversion rates. Many are unhappy.

In other words, it looks like a classic flash-in-the-pan – and Facebook agrees, knocking its own Facebook Deals effort on the head after a four-month test. Yelp is pulling out too, with founder Jeremy Stoppleman telling the FT he "had heard consistently from certain categories of businesses – very popular ones, I'm afraid – that daily deals are uneconomic for them, which does raise questions around the sustainability of '50 per cent off' daily deals for these types of businesses.”

Instead, the Chocolate Factory decided to build one itself, acquiring a cheap rival along the way last month.

On Wednesday, Google even broke its 13-year tradition of minimal UI design by splattering a "Google Offers" deal across its famously clutter-free front page. The first offer touted admission to the American Museum of Natural History ($25 ticket now $5!). Is this wise?

The spam – for that's really what it is – is supposed to indicate that Google is deadly serious about the voucher business. And it does have one trick up its sleeve in Android, with its support for NFC.

In a perfect Google World, no digital pixel is left unmolested by a Google advertisement. The era of personalised, Minority Report-style spam can't be too far away. ®

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