Google as Publisher? Why Not?

When news broke this week about Google’s purchase of Frommer’s online travel guides, the immediate discussions around here involved how coolly the search giant would integrate Frommer’s general travel information with the Zagat content Google purchased last August.

Google+ Local (and Google Maps) will certainly be an obvious benefactor of this content marriage (kind of feels like a shotgun wedding, right?), allowing the company to boost the snarky Zagat blurbs and user reviews already wrapped around + Local’s coveted business listings.

stellas bistro in Google Knowledge GraphYou have to think that Knowledge Graph also stands to get a little residual loving … after all, Google’s goal with semantic search is to give users a direct line to its enormous repository of information about people, places, and things (read as “descriptions & reviews”).

What is really interesting is the Barry Sanders-style wiggle step that Google’s leadership has given to the engine’s once-proud claim that it wasn’t in the content producing business. With this most recent move, as Ezra Gottheil hints at in Sharon Gaudin’s Computer World piece, Google seems to have fully embraced the whole “brand as publisher” movement that has become such a fad in the last two to three years.

What’s really scary scary for conspiracy theorists (bloggists excluded!) is this: if Google has the content in-hand (and its finger on the results), where will review-centric sites like Yelp! and Urban Spoon wind up in the ever-more-competitive race to grab the user’s attention?

Joey Hall – VP, Content Marketing

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