Part of my online shopping routine is to check for coupons that might apply to things I want to buy. I usually do a quick scan of the coupon aggregators when I arrive at the checkout stage where I’m asked to input a discount code. Most of the time I come up dry and find no relevant codes. But perhaps 10% or 20% of the time, I find one and get a nice discount that can range from free shipping to a nifty price reduction.
Recently, I began to adopt this behavior in searching for places to eat, as well. Since restaurants are a commodity (an exquisite commodity, to be sure), I rarely feel that I must go to a specific restaurant on a specific night. I’m quite happy to go to any number of restaurants. And a discount code can easily sway me to change my restaurant plans in favor of a better deal. Which brings me to Bing.
A few weeks back Microsoft’s Bing! was the first search engine to roll out a daily deals search feature. The deals feed includes 200,000 offers perusable by geography and timing. It’s impressive. The Bing! Team has been aggressive about quickly putting in place customer-centric features like enhanced travel search and visual shopping search that address the way we live now with useful tools.
This is the logical extension of the daily deal aggregation game, where the big fellas in the online search biz take the lead. And it both validates and improves my deal experience.
Microsoft’s team will eventually tweak their algorithms to pull up the most relevant deals for me regardless of my location and, over time, tweaked to my preferences. This is nifty because not all deal sites are in all the aggregators like YipIt, CoupoBox, The Deal Map and others. And some daily deals are buried inside of Yelp or OpenTable.
Granted, any deal site can opt out of the Bing index. But to do so is to endure a far higher visibility and findability penalty than opting out of a deal aggregator involves, since those companies have a fraction of the traffic and page views that search engines do.
For local merchants, the inclusion in Bing could be a huge boon to their search rankings — if Bing’s algorithms can discern the URLs of the businesses in the daily deal offerings and those listings are given weight by Bing’s search engines, or if Bing decides to float daily deals as highlighted search results for suitable queries (search: “find restaurant in SOMA Italian”).
This may be an interesting shot in the arm of the daily deal business. After all, this business lives and dies by distribution. And there simply is no better distribution engine right now in the online world than search engines. What’s more, rather than accruing loads of subscribers who may be only drive-by customers, daily deal sites coming into search feeds address people at the point in which they want to eat or shop or whatever. This means both customers and daily deal sites get to have their cake and eat it too.