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Google Makes Deal for Frommer’s

Frommer's Travel GuidesGoogle is getting deeper into the travel market with the acquisition of the Frommer’s travel guide business from publisher John Wiley & Sons. This also puts the search engine giant further into content publishing in an attempt to attract more advertising earnings from local business information and online travel bookings.

John Wiley & Sons announced its intent to sell Frommer’s in March due to the unit no longer aligning with its long-term strategies. The travel guide unit was established in 1957 by Authur Frommer, who published ‘Europe on Five Dollars a Day’. After acquiring the travel guide business in 2001, a Whiley spokeswoman has confirmed its sale to Google. The cost of the acquisition hasn’t been disclosed, while the deal hasn’t been finalised either. People close to the deal say it’s worth less than $66 million, which means antitrust authorities won’t automatically review its impact on competition.

In 2010, Google took its first big step into the travel industry with the acquisition of ITA Software, a flight data firm. The data company powers numerous websites’ flight booking tools. Then last year, the search engine giant launched a flight booking service of its own, which features domestic flights in the US. The company already generates between $2 billion and $3 billion a year from selling ads related to travel on its search engine, as well as from its flight and hotel booking services. Online travel agents Priceline and Expedia are among its top advertisers.

By owning Frommer’s content and showing its search results in the content, Google could possibly sell travel-related advertisements against the travel guide and provide more tools for people to make travel arrangements. Its Google Maps and Google+ business listings could also get a boost from Frommer’s local business data. Last year, the leisure travel industry in the US spent $2.56 billion for online advertising. This is 40.6% more than the year before. At the same time, travellers in the US spent over $100 billion on online holiday bookings. This figure is expected to increase by about 10% per year.

On Monday, Google said it hadn’t decided yet if the Frommer’s travel guides will continue being published in print or if they will eventually be moved completely online. It’s also possible the brand could be integrated into the Zagat brand, which was acquired by the search engine giant last year.

Director of product management Bernardo Hernandez, who is part of the Zagat brand, said that they are dedicated to keeping things they way they are. Once they combine operations, they will know more about what the future holds. He went on to explain that consumers need updated and accurate information, and when trusted information is added to phone numbers and addresses as part of the search experience, users are able to convert their intentions into actions – booking holidays online.

Meanwhile, antitrust authorities are looking into allegations that Google is undermining travel and online review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor by directing its users to its Google+ business listings. The search engine giant has denied accusations of anti-competitive practices and has insisted it creates its service to benefit users instead of other websites.

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