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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

(a play on “group coupon”) is a company that offers high-discount coupons to people in a particular geographic area — typically to local companies like restaurants, dry cleaners, clothing stores, or salons. The coupon becomes valid only if a predetermined number of people purchase it on a given day.

Groupon has been lauded for its particular twist to local online advertising, leading to . Some are tied to news companies, which have traditionally been dominant players in the local advertising market.

Groupon was launched in 2008 in Chicago and spread quickly to more than 150 markets in the United States and Canada and more than 100 in Europe. A Groupon study claimed the company was on pace, as of 2010, to be in history.

For a local business, Groupon offers a deal different from traditional media outlets. Companies offering the coupon do not pay upfront; instead, Groupon takes about half of the revenue generated by coupon purchases. Since those coupons are often for roughly 50 percent off the normal price, companies often end up generating about one-fourth the revenue that traditional sales would. That has led some businesses to report a negative experience when Groupon sent them more customers than they could profitably handle. But many companies consider Groupon’s ability to put their product in front of so many customers — in particular, so many new customers — that they’re willing to accept the lower revenue per sale.

In 2010, search giant Google to purchase Groupon, hoping to tie its advertising strength to Groupon’s local emphasis. Groupon reportedly rebuffed the offer, believing it could make more money as an independent company.

estimated 2010 revenues in the United States of $460 million. But that same analysis showed a significant decline in revenues for February 2011, coupled with a decline in traffic to the site.

In , Groupon launched , the instant, location-based version of its service. The pilot program is taking place in Chicago, but the company .

A number of news companies have started or partnered with Groupon competitors in an effort to halt Groupon’s domination of the space. The Washington Post Co. has allied itself with , whose chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy of Post Co. chairman Don Graham. The New York Times launched , and as of May 2011.

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Primary author: Joshua Benton. Main text last updated: May 15, 2011.
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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit news organization based in Washington, D.C., that produces investigative journalism on public-interest issues. The center was founded by Charles Lewis in 1989, who was its director until 2005. Its staff has fluctuated between 25 to more than 50 throughout the 2000s and 2010s; most recently, it laid…

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