Google’s extended its tentacles deeper into content creation – and travel – with its signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Frommer’s travel guides and all other travel assets of publisher John Wiley & Sons.
Terms were not disclosed. Google expects the transaction to close within a few weeks.
Wiley announced in March that it intended to explore opportunities to sell “a number of its consumer print and digital publishing assets” that no longer fit with its long-term strategy.
Air, hotel search on Google
Google made a big splash in the travel world last year when it acquired ITA Software, the air fare search company. Google’s acquisition of ITA Software has yielded a flight search tool that links to airlines or to online travel agencies for booking.
Google also is developing Hotel Finder, still described as an “experiment,” that shows users how a hotel’s current price compares to its usual price. It also allows users to draw irregular shapes on a map to indicate desired locations.
It’s about content – and ads
But the Frommer’s deal is more akin to Google’s purchase of Zagat, the restaurant review and ratings service.
Like the Zagat content, Frommer’s content will be incorporated into local search results, where Google can sell ads against it – a growing source of revenue for the company.
The deal also will take Google a step further into the realm of owning and producing content, rather than acting solely as a neutral platform that organizes and links to relevant information on the World Wide Web.
That shift could eventually attract the attention of regulators, although Google says it does not favor its own content. “We rank search results to deliver the best answers to users, and that is the only consideration – not political viewpoints, and not advertising dollars,” it states on its website.
The Frommer’s deal on its own is not big enough to warrant antitrust review.
Integrating with Zagat
Google will initially present the new content under the Frommer’s brand name but will eventually integrate it more closely with Zagat. The company said it did not have any other specific plans to share.
In a statement, Google said, “The Frommer’s team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team. We can’t wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world.”
The company has not stated whether it plans to continue publishing the print versions of Frommer’s travel guides, which were launched 55 years ago when Arthur Frommer wrote Europe on $5 a Day.