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One of the bigger questions is how the local portals will fully leverage the emerging social deals platform, with deal a day, coupons, flash sales, et al., which reaches 22 million unique visitors via its destination site and network, has been wrestling with the question as well.

Today, the company has announced that it has created a separate social buying business unit. The new unit, which will roll out its first products in mid-2011, is being built on the back of iTwango, a deals service it acquired in late December. The unit will also work with a syndicated offers platform that was unveiled with’s women-oriented relaunch in November 2010.

Malcolm Lewis, the founder of Premier Guide, an online directory for hundreds of broadcasters and newspapers, has been named to run the unit. Lewis was an executive for after its purchase of Premier Guide. He then branched off to launch Fablistic, a social recommendations engine.

“Daily Deals are not the end game,” Lewis told us. “That’s too narrow a view of the offer space,” which he notes, also includes coupons, flash sales and other promotions. “We are always looking for ways to connect with customers to add incremental sales.”

Lewis adds that “customers” means both local small businesses and national advertisers seeking to target local consumers. ”’s core competency is connecting other people’s local advertisers to a huge network of consumers.”

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