Google acquires Frommer's

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Having acquired Frommer's from John Wiley & Sons on Aug. 13, Google now plans to add the travel guide trademark to its previous Zagat acquisition in an effort to expand its Google+Local platform, according to a Google spokesperson. Google acquired Zagat in Sept. 2011.

Google paid approximately $25 million for Frommer's, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google declined to comment on the exact price or terms.

“The Frommer's team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team,” a Google spokesperson told Direct Marketing News. “We can't wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world.”

Google+Local integrates with Google Search and Google Maps to allows users to search specific attractions, view photos, compare Zagat summaries and scores, and read user-generated reviews, according to Google's official blog. Google aims to unite Frommer's vast amount of travel content with its own local search to help accelerate users' ability to track down accurate local information more efficiently, says a Google spokesperson.

Yet, analysts believe that Google may have ulterior motives and is prompted by advertising revenue.

“Google's acquisition of Frommer's is only the latest in a string of acquisitions designed to help it extend their business in local advertising and travel advertising,” says Karsten Weide, IDC's program VP of digital media and entertainment. "Frommer's and Zagat provide users and page views, and both are needed to sell more advertising.”

Michelle Grant, Euromonitor International's travel and tourism research manager, says the Frommer's acquisition is the result of Google's previous dabbles with user-generated travel content.

“Google used content from Yelp and TripAdvisor in its Google Places tool as consumer reviews are an integral part of consumer research and purchasing decisions,” Grant says. “Neither company liked that their reviews were used like this, so in late 2010, early 2011, they removed their reviews from Google Places, which has led Google to find its own source for consumer reviews.”

However, Grant says Yelp and TripAdvisor may feel the wrath of Google's new acquisition in the longterm.

“The main concern these companies have is that Google will show its products and reviews higher in the results page than their links and draw traffic away from Yelp.com or Tripadvisor.com,” says Grant. “The other issue is that Google could build products, using its own reviewer content, that consumers prefer over their websites. This will also result in less traffic for those websites. Less traffic means lower ad revenue and other types of revenue.”

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