Can Groupon revive the daily deal and itself?

The Groupon logo is displayed in the lobby of the company's international headquarters on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

Groupon is expected to announce fourth quarter earnings today. The daily deal company has been on the skids, and once again has shifted its approach. Rather than having deals pushed at them, consumers can now search for the deals they want. Think Google meets coupons.

It’s one of the more successful adjustments Groupon has made, says Greg Sterling tech analyst with Opus Research.

“By adding search into this you are allowing people to essentially express their needs and interests. That makes it much more likely there is going to be a transaction,” says Sterling.

Sterling says it’s a big improvement over all the Brazilian wax and teeth whitening offers popping up in people’s inboxes like spam.

But Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says this shift undercuts the company’s value.

“You know there was these limited time offers and you had to get it now. There was a flash component. There was a sense of urgency. And now they are just becoming those deal saver books that the Boy Scouts sell you. And they don’t even have a charity angle,” she says.

Mulpuru says Groupon’s constantly changing business model shows the limited potential of the daily deal. She says merchants who want to offer coupons are better off going right to customers and skipping the middle man.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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