Yahoo is entering the deals business. On the heels of Groupon and Foursquare’s success, and the recent rollout of Facebook’s Deals program, Yahoo is developing a program to provide local offers to the readers of its content and the users of its tools, like Yahoo Mail.
The program is still in development, Yahoo vice president of Local Matt Idema said at a press conference this morning. No final decisions have been made about how the program will work. But some examples the company is testing include having a local deals section on the Yahoo front page or displaying offers within the Yahoo Mail and Messenger products. Idema said Yahoo started displaying the offers about two weeks ago. There’s no timeframe for when the company will decide the final format for the program, he said.
Yahoo thinks it’s in a unique position to create a system that works well both for consumers and the brands that want to reach them. Brands get access to Yahoo’s wide user base–180 million unique users every day–and its targeting technologies which, Idema said, help companies reach the customers they’re looking for. For consumers, Yahoo is touting the comprehensiveness of its program. Twenty organizations have agreed to participate, including Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City, and BuyWithMe, as well as traditional offline direct mailers like Valpak and Coupons.com.
Idema told Fast Company that, in doing research with users about what they needed from Local, the company was told that people want an easy way to find local deals. While the number of places offering deals have exploded–from online sources like Groupon and Foursquare, to coupon packs you get in the mail, to newspaper inserts–consumers feel overwhelmed trying to locate deals they themselves might be interested in. Yahoo thinks it can help solve that problem by partnering with a wide range of deal providers and using its targeting technology to deliver the right deal to the right person.