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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Groupon billings rose in November as rivals stalled

(Crain's) — Groupon Inc. outperformed its rivals in November, increasing revenue while its closest competitors posted declines.

Chicago-based Groupon's overall billings from its online daily deals rose 6% from October, according to Yipit, a New York-based deal aggregator. That's triple the 2% increase in the overall November billings for the industry in North America.

Billings from, the second-largest online coupon provider, fell 5% in November, Yipit said. AmazonLocal's revenue slumped 6%.

Google Inc., which launched its daily-deals product GoogleOffers in June, is enjoying rapid growth. Its billings more than doubled to $3.5 million from $1.4 million in October. Travelzoo, an online-travel site that also offers local deals through a unit based in Chicago, saw its billings jump 44%. (Customers pay for coupons upfront, and the deal providers split revenue with the merchants who provide the goods and services.)

Groupon, which went public in November and hasn't yet reported fourth-quarter results, declined to comment.

Groupon remained the industry giant with $154 million in total November revenue. LivingSocial had $52 million and Travelzoo had $7 million, followed by AmazonLocal at $5.8 million and GoogleOffers at $3.5 million.

Yipit also noted that revenue declined for all deal providers as Thanksgiving approached, highlighting seasonal trends seen over the summer that show online deal sales drop off when subscribers are on vacation. During the week of Thanksgiving, Groupon's billings skidded 46% and LivingSocial's total revenue slid 30% from the previous week, Yipit said.

Daily-deals results also fluctuate wildly when coupon sellers offer nationwide deals that drive unusually high participation. Yipit attributed much of Travelzoo's November spike to a nationwide deal for movie tickets from Fandango. Google Offers also was helped by national deals.

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