It’s been a while since I’ve said this, but I’ll say it again: Google is a media company, and at some point, most media companies get pretty deep into the Making Original Content business. With the acquisition of Zagat* Google has clearly indicated it’s going to play in a space it once left to the millions of partners who drove value in its search and advertising business. Google is walking a thin line here – media partners are critical to its success, but if its seen as favoring its “owned and operated” content over those who operate in the open or independent web, well, lines may be redrawn in the media business.
Now, it’s easy to argue that this was a small, strategic buy to support Google’s local offering. Then again…Blogger, YouTube, and GoogleTV are not small efforts at Google. And if I were an independent publisher who focused on the travel and entertainment category, I’d be more than a bit concerned about how my content might rank in Google compared to Zagat. Just ask Yelp.
So…what other content-driven categories might Google find the need to get into? Well, ask yourself this question: What other content-driven business categories are important to Google?
Answering that question falls into the category of “things that make you go….huh…”
I’ll have more thinking on this soon, I hope. But I wanted to note the sale as indicative or a larger trend worth watching.
*Zagat has had a commercial relationship with FM, a company I founded, but not a material one on either side as I understand it.