Google's Next Trick: Moving Junk Mail Coupons Online

from the just-what-we've-always-wanted dept

It’s no secret that Google is trying to get involved in all kinds of different advertising ventures outside of its existing efforts. While some of their early efforts, such as getting into magazine advertising, haven’t gone all that well, the company keeps experimenting. The latest is to team up with Valpak, makers of the famous (or infamous) blue envelopes stuffed full of coupons that show up in your mailbox and (for most of you) get quickly tossed in the trash can. At least they’re not looking to put Google Adwords into those envelopes. Instead, the partnership does make a bit of sense — taking Valpak’s offline advertisers and offering them the chance to toss up some coupons for people doing searches on Google Maps. Users can then print out the coupons and head off to the local retailer. It’s not a particularly new idea — but getting it implemented properly has always been an issue. If the implementation is done well (and isn’t particularly intrusive), it could make sense here. Of course, it really wasn’t that long ago that brick-and-mortar retail stores were looking to ditch online coupons due to rampant fraud. So, there may still be some work that needs to be done before retailers get too excited about this.

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Comments on “Google's Next Trick: Moving Junk Mail Coupons Online”

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dorpus says:

Re: Re: Anybody uses coupons?

Speaking from 35 years of watching welfare types hold up supermarket lines with their funny coupons, is it really worth the shame? The coupons are only for low-end brands like Ragu’s pasta sauce or Sony.

Recently, my dad thought Sony would honor the rebate, I thought it was just a waste of time in which he would give away his address and not get a rebate anyway. Turned out I was right, too — Sony sent back a letter 3 months later saying that the documentation was “not legitimate”, even though it was exactly what they ordered.

nunya_bidness says:

Re: Re: Re: Anybody uses coupons?

It is obvious your dad was incapable of applying for the rebate properly, and, true to form, you are following in his foot steps. I love your posts, they are so well written, yet filled with anger and derogatory statements. You can’t hide your low self esteem by demeaning others. Keep up the good work, we need a tortured soul to spice up things.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Anybody uses coupons?

It is obvious your dad was incapable of applying for the rebate properly, and, true to form, you are following in his foot steps.

As far as I or the store person could tell, the directions were followed properly. After many hours of having the store intervene, he seemed to have eventually received the rebate. However, it was not worth the time, relative to what he or I make. I remain opposed to basing purchasing decisions based on rebates — it is a turnoff for me.

NoType says:

Re: Re: Re: Anybody uses coupons?

“Speaking from 35 years of watching welfare types hold up supermarket lines with their funny coupons, is it really worth the shame?”

I hope the “welfare types” dont care about what “rich ignorant types” think of them. They shouldn’t feel at all shamefull. They are not there to impress you, or to make sure the line runs smoothly. They are trying to feed themselves and their children. They aren’t brand whores. Food is food.

A discount is a discount. I am not poor… but if I can use a coupon and save money, why not?

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Anybody uses coupons?

I hope the “welfare types” dont care about what “rich ignorant types” think of them. They shouldn’t feel at all shamefull. They are not there to impress you, or to make sure the line runs smoothly. They are trying to feed themselves and their children. They aren’t brand whores. Food is food.

Yeah, and have the whole community know where they stand, ruining their reputation. The poor pay more.

A discount is a discount. I am not poor… but if I can use a coupon and save money, why not?

And spend all your time going through coupons, swayed into buying inferior brands, when you could have been doing something more productive? Despite the macho posturing by coupon users about how it takes “no time” or that they aren’t led into bad decisions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anybody uses coupons?

That’s bull. Coupons save tons of money on stuff, when you use them properly. Websites like are dedicated to the use of coupons in online retailers, and you can bet that those people don’t think their computers are a waste of money. And in real life, I see plenty of people who use internet coupons all the time. I can regularly save 40 or 50% on grocery bills using coupons.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Anybody uses coupons?

And yeah, I looked at just for the sake of open-mindedness. The bargains didn’t sound very good anyway — $300 for a vacuum cleaner at wal-mart?? Are coupons a way to lead the poor or stupid into making purchases that they would not have otherwise made?

As the old saying goes, the poor pay more. I’ve had conversations with poor folk before on their supposed wisdom of saving money. Their tactics cost more in the long run.

Not Poor says:

Re: Anybody uses coupons?

You’ve got to be kidding me? I am not poor by any stretch of the imagination. I make $130,000/year I use my computer every single day for hours at a time, both at work and at home.

I look for coupons for any purchase I can find. As a matter of fact, I scour the web looking for any deal I can find!! Any time I can save money and not have to pay the regular price just by simply finding a little coupon (or coupon code) for that matter makes my life better — and consequently my future.

Before you speak and end up looking like you’re an idiot, maybe you should check the facts.

dorpus says:

Re: Re:

When trailer trash are told by schoolteachers to get rid of the lice in their children’s hair, they panic at the $12 bottles of anti-lice shampoo at Walgreen, so they pour gasoline on their kids’ heads. And when daddy lights up a cigarette next to them, BO-WOOM, it becomes a lot more expensive than $12.

People who buy used beds, is it really worth all the bedbugs?

People who buy used ink cartridges, is it really worth printing important documents with blotched ink?

College students who buy outdated versions of textbooks, is it really worth turning in the wrong homework problems?

Car drivers who put up plastic trash bags for windows, is it really worth the lack of safety, or getting pulled over more often?

My parents insisted on keeping the piece-of-shit particle board office desk for the cross-country move. Just as I predicted, the office desk is warped and useless now. So much for all the trouble we went through to dismantle and re-mantle it.

Dorpus is an idiot says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hey Dorpus,

A fool and his money is soon parted and I expect that you’re either poor or soon to be poor and wishing you could buy stuff with coupons.

Frankly, either you are extremely sarcastic or just a plain hose job waiting to be put out of your misery by an irate coworker that lost it because you would not shut up.

Coupons save money dip dong, if you like paying extra money on something go right ahead.

What kind of brands to you buy Dorpus? Probably nothing because you are some punk that still lives with their parents and eats whatever mom put in the fridge. Your dad is right to try to get the rebate from Sony, since he needs the extra money to support your lazy but.

Anyway, have fun with your “cheap brands” and get back on the couch that your dad probably bought with a rebate, coupon or sale.

Christian Baxter (user link) says:


as a society, we associate coupons with housewives, welfare, and a big rusty pair of scissors. somehow, i don’t think that’s Google’s target market here…

a couple steps back: businesses will post coupons on google maps…these are then posted via gps devices to incentivise by location (ad-words are not too effective when you’re driving).

a few years and a few million coupons later, google releases a credit card (linked to checkout and coupons)…coupons are automatically handled electronically as you shop; data recorded of course.

Bryan Whitlock says:


Well, maybe Dorpus (I love people who hide behind a ficticious name on a message board, by the way) will be driving his car to work today, and while he’s drinking his coffee, he’ll accidentally spill some on his lap, jerk the wheel from the pain of the burn, and slam head-first into his mother, who is pushing a shopping cart with her granddaughter, killing both. Wouldn’t that be funny?

Hautedawg (hiding behind the name) says:

Re: "dorpus"

Yeah, but he’ll probably sue the poor sap who served him the coffee he wanted extra hot.

By the way, We are a high six figure income family, and we use coupons every time we shop. Perhaps that’s why we can afford some of the lifestyle we have.

We also fill our rebate forms correctly and are able to read all disclaimers, follow the rules and don’t dish our shyte to those who think differently, but in Doofus’ case (er, I mean Dorphus), I’ll make an exception. Shyte head

dorpus says:

Re: Re: "dorpus"

By the way, We are a high six figure income family, and we use coupons every time we shop. Perhaps that’s why we can afford some of the lifestyle we have.

You mean you wouldn’t be a seven-figure income family if you didn’t use your time more wisely?

The better quality stuff I buy never have coupons anyway.

Meoip says:

No coupons = no sense

I save about 20% every grocery trip with coupons + another 15% with smart shopping. Let’s be conservative and say that’s 35% a trip which is 35% a year. I spend 225$ ( and save $78) a month on groceries which is 2700$ a year and I save $945 a year or I get 4.2 months of groceries back each year. Drop that into my investment accounts and I will be doing better in retirement and it will only have taken a few minutes a week.

Not to mention if you think coupons take longer to scan, it’s like buying that many extra items which really doesn’t take that long specifically if you count out the savings per hour. So to save $78 I spend less than half an hour a month which is like $156 an hour and until I’m making $324,480 a year it’s worth it.

But if you don’t want your coupons you can send them to me…

Frank the Tank says:


are great. and they aren’t always for the “crappy” stuff. lots of name brand items have cupons. Jiff, Coke, Kellogs, Betty Crocker, Dole, Del Monte, and General Mills, (just to name a few) but remember, aren’t most of those companies owned by like unilever or Procter and Gamble?

if you are smart (which obviously some posers aren’t) you can save thousands of dollars in cupons. they are worth is.

oh, and i must ask, Dorpus, if you have to wait in line behind those with walefare cupons, why do you shop there? or are you on walefare too? i thought you were some rich, high and mighty shopper, so you’d never shop at a place where they let people on walefare in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Meritocracy

What a bunch of BS…. I’ll say a prayer for you fool. You are all fools if one truly believes that we all get what we deserve for our efforts (Work). I see mexican migrants busting their ass for peanuts, yet I have associated with business execs who spend more time playing golf and eating yet earn top dollar. Such a fallacy, get your head out of yer butt, you disgust me.

Anonymous Coward says:

capture vs click

If you are a pay-per-click advertiser, you want to know: “did that click DO anything for us?” i.e. result in a purchase, help collect consumer info, influence a decision, etc. Google has, of necessity, built great tools for measuring these conversions if you’re an E-tailer. But in the brick-and-mortar retail world, coupons are one of the handful of feedback mechanisms that actually connect an action (purchase) back to a specific ad. Google needs this capability to serve advertisers who can’t rely on Google’s “Analytics” alone to measure the effectiveness of their online advertising campaigns. Done right, it’s a whole new stream of revenue. Since this is so near and dear to their core revenue-generating business, I’m guessing they’re going to figure out how to get it right.

ehrichweiss says:

online coupon groups

There are sites online where people scan all the best and latest coupons and you print and use them. I haven’t used one yet but it is noteworthy to point out that a “how to do scams” page I read once mentioned how to use these to get a huge portion of your groceries for pennies.

That being said, I know someone who at one time spent 15 or more hours a week clipping and organizing coupon to save $75 each week. If you do the math, that’s $5/hr. One could work a minimum wage job and make the extra $$$. In this instance, the online coupon sites would be far more productive with maybe an hour a week being used.

Lay Person says:


Please people!

Coupons, to me, are a total waste of time!

I suppose if you have nothing better to do, yeah coupons make sense. But to sit there and read coupon ads, to see if you can save $1.00 or $2.00 for a $30.00 item is hardly worth my time.

My time is worth more than $1.00 or $2.00, geez it’s not like this is some child-labor sweat shop!

Although I must ad that if there is a major savings, I may use a coupon but it damn near have to be right in front of my face or a gift from someone, and even still it would have to be free or at a 30% minimum savings on a durable good.

I do do the manufacturers rebates though because the savings are quite significant.

Coupons on the other hand are nothing more than advertisements and for the most part a total waste.

Anonymous Coward says:

humm….Time to read cupon…5 seconds, to clip, 5 seconds, to store with other cupons..n/a as one big group the time is very small. driving to the store and shopping, aren’t counted because it’s all shopping and you would have bought anyway. searching for cupon at checkout, still a small time if you shopped right and the cupons orginized (multitasking) scaning at checkout 2 seconds.

so…let me see…5+5+2+other stuff. i’d say 30 seconds still. and ok, if it’s 50 cents, thst’s still 60 bucks an hour

and that’s not counting the e-cupons for online purchases…mere clockcycles for that.

another thing to consider, is that sure you may make $20 an hour at your job, but that’s only for 8 hours. that’s about 40 k a year, so if you figure you are constantly getting paid, it’s about $4.57 per hour.

still money saved.

Lay Person says:


Alright say all your timing is 100% accurate.

One small oversight…

You state “time to read coupon”… How exactly did you get to that very coupon before you cut it. Did you telepathically know exactly where to look, know exactly what the offer is, know exactly at what point it’s available.

No, you had to go through a thousand other coupons that you have no interest in. This, my friend takes all the time. Sure if a coupon is waiting in hand, there is no problem. Hell I may even use them if it were that easy!

Oh, by the way I tried using coupons and that’s how I’ve determined that they are a waste of time.

Coupons are nothing more than advertisements/research and that’s their purpose. Not to save you money.

SailorAlphaCentauri says:

Wow, Lay Person...

How many coupons are you getting that you read the Valpak equivalent of War and Peace every week? Making use of coupons to get things at a discount that you’re already going to buy is a great idea, no matter what you think.

One of the ways to cut down on coupon read-time is to skip the coupons that come in the mail (the ones that are the flyers). Those are usually for Church’s chicken (or whatever fast-food place is in your area) and skip-able if you don’t eat that kind of stuff.

Moving on to the Sunday coupons. There are not that many items on the average page of a coupon [Unless it is for a company brand, it’s usually restricted to the product], so it’s very easy to look at the page to see if it is even worth your time. And unless you get hundreds of coupons every week, this isn’t that much of a time-loss.

Maximizing the coupon usage. Going to stores where they will double coupons (not necessarily having to go to the stores far away from home to spend more on gas than would be saved with the coupon) gives an even bigger savings, and something that is worthwhile if you need to watch your pennies or if you just want to save money.

Yes, coupons serve as advertisements [I find the research label a little dubious…my coupons don’t come with enough data to truly be research materials], and they expose people to products that are new by giving away free samples or big discounts.

I think it is rather foolish to disparage all coupon usage based on a mathematical formula which [rightly or wrongly] states that you could make that working minimum wage, when telling said person to get a minimum wage job probably would not stop them from looking for coupons. They may be bringing home more money than you believe they would save, but they would still have the time loss.

What Google plans on doing would take coupons to a level of convienency that even you said you’d like. The coupons would be targeted (hopefully) to your needs, which would cut down on the time spent looking for coupons and cut out the coupons you do not desire to see. It combines a time savings with a money savings, hopefully it will be something that won’t try to sell me on getting new windows when I’m going out to buy chothes.

I’ve not had a lot of experience with coupons where you save a couple of bucks on a $30 purchase [somebody stated that earlier], but the better coupons are for things that you use (e.g. toilet paper, unless you use the three-shells system) which can, with double coupons, save you half the price of the item.

I think the one issue I may have missed in all this is the value to the consumer. Lay Person may not feel that the time spent on coupons has enough value for his time. I, on the other hand, do not percieve my time as being wasted on an unpaid endeavor [and I don’t use that many coupons…I just use what I know I’ll use and call it a day] so I percieve a great value. Bottom line, coupons are a waste of time to those who percieve it as such. But to say coupons are a waste of time for everyone because you hate them is a pretty facetious argument and very short-sighted.

dorpus says:


On here and elsewhere in the US media, we hear endless tales of how starving kids in China/India are getting straight A’s in math. During my masters degree program, I lived in an apartment complex that had quite a few foreign students from China/India, and I saw them throwing out perfectly good furniture, vacuum cleaners that still work.

In any country, good students come from families with plenty of dough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Incidentally

after gaining all post graduate degrees, i’ve noticed that some of the smartest kids come from low income families. they struggle to get through college, and ya know what? their lives are worth more than 100000000000 of yours dorpus.

go back to screwing your dog….maybe you’ll have a heart attack and die.

Mike (user link) says:

The strategic impact of Google's coupon announceme

Google is looking to do to coupons what Craigslist has done to classifieds; namely leverage free Internet-based distribution to disrupt and cannibalize the market. Valpak has provided Google the critical mass they need to establish themselves as a destination site for coupons and to jump-start their simple self-service coupon offering.

This move really validates the market for online local coupons, which ZiXXo has pioneered. At this point, I believe that the heads of AOL, MSN, Yahoo, IAC, News Corp. et al. are asking what their coupon strategy should be. Google is looking to build a silo of coupons on their site. ZiXXo differs in that we offer a syndication network of online coupons. We are in talks with most of the big guys about leveraging our solution for self-service and syndication, and I expect that this will accelerate those talks. Basically, we want to be the arms merchant in the battle to be the local coupon destination site.

The offline coupons folks, Valpak, MoneyMailer, ADVO, etc. also need to figure out how they will respond to Google. Again I believe that ZiXXo provides a mechanism to respond to them. We provide the self-service, the API for integration of coupons into content, tracking and reporting, coupon management (e.g. pausing coupons) and more. I believe that Google’s coupon solution will be a shot across the bow of these folks.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

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