While not as snazzy a name as Groupon, the idea is the same: a deal-of-the-day site that senda an email to daily to end users with a local deal. If enough users sign up within the trigger period (we would assume 24 hours), the Google Offer becomes valid.
The evidence it pretty clear: Mashable has received a fact sheet (embedded below) for Google Offers, one that the company is sending to businesses. More evidence has been found in the form of a Google Offers logo, hosted on a Google server, no less.
The capper is the following: Search Engine Land received an email that seems to confirm the project. Although the email does not confirm the name as Google Offers, and it uses the word "test," it seems pretty clear:
Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways. We do not have more details to share at this time, but will keep you posted.How is this going to affect Groupon, and Living Social? It's going to affect them, but both companies are well-established, and Google Offers won't kill them.
Living Social just had a huge Amazon.com gift card deal that ended with 1.3 million sold. Groupon is preparing a Spring IPO that could value it at $15 billion.
Some smaller players may fall by the wayside, but it's not as though deals such as these overlap. People will go to Groupon, Living Social, or Google Offers, or other sites, depending on whichever has the best deal. Not everyone wants an Amazon.com gift card or a deal at the Gap (to reference two huge Living Social and Groupon deals).
Although people used to fear that Google entering a market would kill off other products, it's not as though Google Checkout has dented PayPal's market share much, and Google Places hasn't killed Yelp.
What Google Offers will mean is more reason to check your inbox every morning, in hopes of a deal.