By mohnikapoor / / I’m going to be honest: if you offer me free food, I’ll pretty much go anywhere. That’s how I first visited Albania (well, free food, free Raki, and a very attractive cab driver), and that’s how I ended up at the Google Places workshop lunch this afternoon at ReBar in DUMBO, brought to me by Digital DUMBO. The workshop/focus group was led by Brooklyn Community Manager, Margarita Vaisman (great name/above) and she was joined by Google NYC’s Lead Tech Manager. I immediately assumed that the discussion would revolve around Google Offers, since Google Offers is the one thing that might immediately make Google Places relevant. It didn’t. After a short introduction about Google Places, the “social layer of Google Maps,” room of developers, designers and tech geeks echoed my general apathy towards Google Places. Yes, Google’s recommendation engines point you to places your friends have rated well, but no one rates anything on Google Places. The Google folk argued that they find their friends ratings all the time, BUT THEY AND THEIR FRIENDS WORK FOR GOOGLE. Most attendees preferred Yelp because of the bulk of reviews and the cleaner interface. Eventually, I had to ask: “Are you planning on integrating Instant Google Offers into Google Places? So I can get instant offers as soon as I do a Google search for where I want to go?” They smiled but declined to comment. Ultimately, that is the big opportunity for Google Offers and Google Places. Everyone uses Google to search for restaurants and retailers. Imagine if you were presented with Instant Google Offers every time you searched? And if you got great discounts from Google Offers in exchange for reviews? You’d be happy. Google would dominate the Groupon game. If Google wants to be true Groupon Gangsters, that’s exactly what they need to do.
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