Yahoo Local Offers Challenges Facebook Deals, Google Places

Yahoo Nov. 16 introduced Local Offers, a bid to rival Facebook Deals, Foursquare deals and Google Places. Also on tap: integrations with Twitter and Zynga, as well as new search tools.

SAN FRANCISCO-Yahoo Nov. 16 rolled out a number of new features for applications spanning search, instant messaging and mobile applications as it seeks to lure more users from Google, Facebook and other Internet rivals.

But the most interesting piece of news was the vague introduction of Yahoo Local Offers, an effort to take advantage of the intersection of users conducting searches for local businesses from their mobile phones and get deals.

Yahoo has partnered with Groupon, LivingSocial, and more than a dozen other companies to surface deals and coupons from restaurants, spas and local clothing shops, said Matt Idema, vice president of Yahoo Local, during a media event at the Web 2.0 Summit here.

The service is being bucket tested. Users will know if they see the test if they see a tab on the Yahoo Home page offering "deals for you," based on Yahoo's knowledge of the user and what is locally relevant to him or her.

Exactly how these tests will take shape has yet to play out, acknowledged Idema and Blake Irving, executive vice president and chief product officer at Yahoo.

Idema said partners would share revenue generated from any local business deals consummated by consumers through Local Offers. Local Offers is open to all deal providers in the United States, including local "deal of the day" partners and traditional direct-marketing partners.

Local Offers follows in the footsteps on Foursquare's check-in offers and Facebook Deals, which lets users check into stores and shops from Facebook Places to claim deals from Gap, Starbucks and others. Google Places, meanwhile, lets advertisers call out deals with Tags for $25 per month.

Irving also discussed several other product iterations, including the first integrations with Twitter and Zynga.

Yahoo users worldwide may now connect their Yahoo and Twitter accounts to see and share Twitter updates on the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Pulse. This parallels Yahoo's existing deal with Facebook, which has now been integrated with Yahoo Mail.

Also, people can now launch, play and share the Mafia Wars and FishVille games from Zynga on Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Games, My Yahoo, Yahoo Toolbar and Yahoo Pulse.

Yahoo may have given up on search monetization, but it still has a search engine to feed, albeit served by Microsoft Bing. New Quick Apps will help people find restaurants they want.

An improved Sketch-a-Search app is available across PCs, Apple iPhones and iPads. Users may also now make reservations through OpenTable right on the Yahoo Search results page.

The new Yahoo Messenger beta lets users play social games from Zynga, ELEX and OMGPOP; share their status across networks; and view, comment on and "like" updates from Yahoo Pulse, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. Yahoo Messenger also works with Facebook Chat.