If you live in Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or San Jose, you might have noticed a different type of deal being featured on the front page recently – a deal that’s available only in your area, easily identifiable by a little pin. Before you get all up in arms about us “selling out”, let us explain what we’re trying to accomplish by featuring these deals: we see local deals as an upcoming step in our evolution as a deal site. Eventually, we hope for a frontpage that includes accurate listings of what’s on clearance at your local Walmart sandwiched in between a TV from Amazon and a nationwide Groupon.
Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet. We’ve been pushing local deals (both on the front page and, more recently, with that tab you see at the top of the page) for the past 5 or 6 months. We’ve seen a lot of clicks (which is encouraging), but unfortunately very little feedback. At the same time, we’ve seen some great deals come up that a lot of you have probably missed out on. For example, a recent Groupon in San Francisco offered 50% off at Lowe’s for San Francisco residents, but we couldn’t put it on the front page because it (a) didn’t have any thumbs, and (b) was only applicable to a small percentage of you guys. Rather than continue missing out on sharing these deals while we wait for our usual feedback, we’ve decided to roll out a geographically-targeted test.
As of right now, our system is fairly simple. We take a look at how the different deals are selling. If something is really moving, we look a little more closely (Yelp or other independent reviews)- if it seems to be a slick deal, then we write it up and put it on the front page.
Some of you newbies might not know this, but this is how Slickdeals originally started. Before he had an audience, Mr. SD hand-picked deals that he thought people would like. It wasn’t until he built an audience that he was able to take user feedback into account. Once we have an audience that’s actively involved in Local Deals, we’ll again take a step back and let you guys choose what’s worth looking at and what’s crap.
We know that there will be hiccups-for one, we need to figure out an ideal radius to use for the deals, that will probably change from city to city. Traveling 7 miles in San Francisco or New York City is not the same thing as traveling 7 miles in Las Vegas. Also, the formula we use to decide what we even look at will need to be fine-tuned. A thousand sales in New York isn’t nearly as impressive as a thousand sales in Stockton, CA. And, eventually, we plan to make this feature optional. If you don’t want to see local deals listed on the front page, we plan to have a way for you to filter them.
Finally, we want to be very clear- these aren’t paid placements. Believe us, paying our deal editors to take the time to vet a bunch of deals that will only even display for like 1% of you guys isn’t some money-grab. We never have and we never will sell space in that frontpage deal section to advertisers.
So anyway, that’s where we are right now. We’re excited- we think it adds variety and improves the site.