While it may not be the best practice to write a post based on a rumor there is more than enough to consider with the possibility of Google buying Groupon. Beyond the astronomical figure being thrown around as a purchase price ($5.3 billion with a $700 million earnout), the idea of Groupon’s brand and ease of use combined with Google’s local search emphasis really makes for interesting bedfellows.
Some of the top names in the local search industry have done analysis of this potential blockbuster deal. From David Mihm we hear
….though there’s nothing particularly special about the Groupon platform itself, for Google, this platform can be leveraged in amazing ways. And with the breakneck pace of their recent rollouts, it seems like they finally seem to have the horses in the Local product stable to be able to execute on it.
Mike Blumenthal talks about how the street ‘savviness’ of Groupon and its existing sales force could even move Google closer to being more of a marketing company which, quite honestly, is needed desperately in the SMB space.
Groupon also has staff on the ground trained in selling new media. The portfolio for these sales people would immediately increase with a buyout. And an impressive portfolio it would be. These folks could lead with a Groupon deal and then lock in a monthly recurring revenue source with Boost or Adwords. If their selling efforts for Groupon were a bust initially, they could still start folks with Tags and demonstrate the significant benefits of local internet advertising and of claiming their listing in Places and move on to Boost and Groupon down the road.
This purchase would not just give Google a successful, easy to explain coupon product for SMBs (and national players to add to the Adwords revenue stream) but it would give them an on the ground sales force with an actual foot in the door of the other 75% of businesses that would never self serve.
So how does this potentially play out for the SMB’s of the world? Well, Greg Sterling (who is aghast at the potential purchase price as evidenced with this post ) estimates that only 25% of these kinds of companies would take advantage of the self serve internet advertising that Google is currently offering so this added feature with the chance to have a live body help with search could help both the SMB and Google.
In the end, these products that Google wants to push like Boost and Tags require a Google Place Page that is verified. What goes hand in hand with the idea is that a business must have control of the data that is existing on the Internet in order to fully tap into all the potential that will be coming whether this deal happens or not.
So as it always does this can be a simple “do the basics” first for the SMB market to really latch on to the opportunity that will be coming down the pike in one form or another. The most basic element is to ensure that the data pertaining to the SMB is pervasive (everywhere where someone might be looking for it) and it is accurate. Since most directories and other data aggregators / warehouses have data about most businesses anyway it is now more important than ever to make sure it is accurate everywhere.
If you or your clients have not attended to this basic Internet marketing principle you are running the risk of being left behind. As this snowball called local Internet marketing continues to gain momentum it will be very easy to either jump on or get crushed. For the SMB, the choice is theirs.