Google + Zagat, What Do Y’all Think?

I wrote about the Google acquisition of Zagat over at Search Engine Land. It will be interesting to see if price/deal value comes out. How much do you think it was?

Regardless, this is a major development for Google and local. It’s bad news for all other competitors except those with the strongest brands and consumer loyalty.

Even though Zagat was a brand in decline, it’s still powerful. And the content that Google is getting will be huge in terms of closing the gap between Google and Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor. Google is now a publisher, but will it preserve the books? Will it continue to do the outbound Zagat survey? Will it kill the subscription model?

Yelp and TripAdvisor will survive; don’t let anyone sell you this is a “Yelp killer.” But it takes away one of Yelp’s primary selling points: volume of reviews.

Google has enormous “gravitational power” for people generally and for local (and mobile) search users. This will only further support that “pull.” I also adds more fuel to the “reviews are critical for SEO and otherwise” fire. Will Zagat become the primary channel for reviews  acquisition on Google?

What do all of you think about this acquisition, its impact on competition and on Google and the way it does business?

I don’t anticipate any regulatory problems or issues with the transaction.

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7 Responses to “Google + Zagat, What Do Y’all Think?”

  1. Jim M. says at

    Great move with a proven company and product though maybe not at the scale that Google needs given its an editorial process. It probably means we all don’t have to subscribe anymore (since Google will likely get rid of any subscriptions) which would be GREAT.

    They’ll still find that generating reviews from real consumers will be challenging. Though a couple of ideas would blow the review counts way up such as having restaurants solicit reviews right in their menus. Zagat has the cache to do this successfully (assuming Google keeps the brand). One of my favorite restaurants did this many years ago and poof now I can’t get a reservation there now. Also, you could get people to scan a QR code and do a review right in the restaurant. It would be totally annoying but I have kids and don’t really go to restaurants anymore. 

    Though Google tends to believe in software rather than people so it will probably flail in this area where its crucial to make a connection with the consumer.  Maybe they’d be better off buying opentable instead (or Micros for that matter…a POS system that could be enhanced to take email addresses).

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    They said that they would maintain Zagat’s products and systems for the time being.

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    Zagat has been profitable for every one of its 32 years, Marissa Mayer said to me.

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    First three years were a “hobby,” says Tim Zagat.

  5. Andrew Shotland says at

    Great brand and content.  Curious how relevant it is to the majority of the Web though.  Still, a drop in the bucket for GOOG that propels their local game.

  6. Greg Sterling says at

    Andrew:

    Agree with the demographic question re Web appeal.

  7. Russell Perkins says at

    Greg,
    Let me offer a contrarian view: it’s a harebrained deal. The more Google tries to do with Zagat, the more issues it confronts. The less it does (the typical Google approach), the less it gets for its investment in a business with a totally alien business model and not enough scale to do anything useful for existing Google businesses. Here’s my full argument: http://infocommerce.typepad.com/my-blog/2011/09/rating-the-zagat-deal.html

  8. Thoughts on the Zagat Deal: Content is Information. Information is Power. | Googley Lessons says at

    […] the past week, there’s been a healthy debate about Google getting into the content creation business and whether that jeopardizes its status as […]

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