There's no limit, it seems, to the wheezes dreamed-up by the dudes on Google's Mountain View campus when it comes to squeezing an extra buck from the internet.

In partnership with Valpak Direct Marketing Systems - a major US distributor of discount coupons both on paper and online - the web titan is poised to launch a service offering surfers local store discount coupons they can print at home.

Google says it will make a large number of online coupons available at no charge to consumers via its Google Maps service, while AdWords marketers have the opportunity to pay for a coupon-link alongside their ads.

Businesses are also offered the facility to create their own coupons free of charge via Google Maps' Local Business Center, where businesses enter searchable promotional information.

Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm specializing in online behaviour patterns, believes Google's new offering could resolve some of the fundamental problems with online advertising in general, and search engine advertising in particular.

Coupons, he says, could create a direct link between a consumer's online behaviour and a final purchase, removing much of the uncertainty about so-called 'click fraud' and other problems with measuring consumer behaviour online.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff