Google is diving yet again into buyer’s mode with the announcement that it intends to buy the Frommer’s brand of travel guides. The purpose of the purchase is to improve both its local and travel search results, according to industry reports.
Google is going to pony up about $23 million for Frommer’s, according to an anonymous source. While this is a small buy for the search giant, it is key for a number of growing businesses within the company.
This deal seems to indicate just how vital local search and reviews are for search engines. This also hints at the real possibility that Google is trying to become an actual media company. It seems to want to make its mission to not show you the most important links around the Internet, but to produce that information on its own.
Google seems to now understand how important it is to have its own content and how vital that content is to the consumer. Frommer’s is a highly content rich acquisition, more so than many of their previous buys.
A few years ago, Google insisted that it did not intend to create its own content, but would rather just be a means for people to find content. Back as recently as 2010, the company said that it wanted to be a neutral platform for applications and content.
However, they started to diverge from this plan as early as 2008. This is when they created Knol, which was a competitor for Wikipedia, but has since closed up shop. The YouTube division of Google regularly acquires and finances producers of video content, and in 2011, the firm bought up Zagat, which writes restaurant reviews.
Google is walking a similar line as Yahoo, AOL and Amazon, which all are showing hints of wanting to become media giants. However, Google needs to take care to not catch the attention of antitrust regulators. When Google makes its own content, it is competing with Websites, and is no longer an entirely neutral information organizer. When you do a search for information on Italy, Google could put Frommer’s information ahead of that of other sites.
Google stresses that it never favors its own products when it provides search results. However, this very subject is under review right now with the Federal Trade Commission.