Online coupons have been around for many years, at least a decade. Despite this no publisher or site has arisen to yet win the space. There’s no Facebook of coupons, no Twitter of coupons and, dare I say it, no Google of coupons. Google itself would seem to have missed or mishandled the opportunity with its peek-a-boo approach to local coupons.
Yet coupons and deals have become progressively hotter during the recession. And now there are a growing number of sites online and in mobile that promise access to offers and savings. Sensing a differentiating opportunity, Ask is today launching a deals vertical (“Ask Deals“) within search that seeks to be that comprehensive source of coupons and offers from a wide range of sources.
Ask is largely crawling for the data and said the following in its press release about the scope of Deals at launch:
Ask Deals, its proprietary database of more than 1 million high-quality savings offers from national and local merchants across hundreds of product categories.
Ask Deals scours the Web for all the deals available online – from savings on ‘skinny jeans’ to restaurant coupons – and organizes the best money-saving offers front and center on the results page, eliminating the need for consumers to search multiple sites or multiple coupon sites or search engine links to find their answer. The Ask Deals database is continuously refreshed and editorially refined, giving consumers the most up-to-date and highest-quality savings offers every time they search on Ask.
Each of the major search engines now plays to some degree in the deals and coupons space. Yahoo has recently made a bigger push, while Google has seemingly neglected the coupon opportunity.
Microsoft offers an excellent travel vertical in Bing Travel (with price predictions and alerts) and provides cash back within shopping. The company also acquired the assets of local coupon platform Zixxo some time ago. And AOL, for its part, has one of the most interesting of the various deal/coupon initiatives in the little-known Shortcuts, which ties online CPG and grocery coupons to offline loyalty cards.
If you go into the iTunes app store you’ll find something like 30 apps that respond to the query “coupons.” Clearly this is an area that is growing and will be perennially popular.
To rise above the increasing number of sites and corresponding noise, Ask is betting on comprehensiveness, based on its ability to crawl the Internet and deliver a more effective and efficient search-driven user experience. I wasn’t able to try it out extensively before launch but my initial impressions are largely positive.