August 13, 2012, 3:39 PM

Google agrees to buy Frommer’s online travel service

The deal could boost Google’s travel and local search business.

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Google Inc. has agreed to buy Frommer’s and other travel-related assets of publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc., Wiley said today. Wiley didn’t say what Google will pay for the travel assets; Google didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

The deal follows Google’s purchase last year of Zagat Survey LLC, a provider of online and printed restaurant and hotel guides. With Frommer’s—which provides a wide range of online and printed travel information ranging from feature articles on popular destinations to travel tips submitted by consumers—Google stands to boost its Internet search business by connecting more travel and hospitality search advertisers with consumers looking for travel ideas and bargains, experts say.

Compared with Zagat, “the Frommer’s content is much deeper and could help boost Google’s travel search business,” says Greg Sterling, founder of research and consulting firm Sterling Market Intelligence, which covers the Internet’s influence on offline consumer purchasing. “It will be interesting to see how Google integrates this wealth of new content into [Google] Maps, search and its mobile apps.”

Herman Leung, a senior investment analyst who follows Internet stocks at Susquehanna Financial Group, estimates that Frommer’s had about 1.7 million unique visitors worldwide in June, down 3% from a year earlier but up 9% from the prior three months of this year. Most of its unique monthly visitors are from the United States, at 1.2 million, he says. Unique monthly visitors are counted only once regardless of how many times they visit a site in a particular month.

Google’s acquisition of Frommer’s will also put pressure on online travel service TripAdvisor, even though TripAdvisor is much larger with 54 million global unique visitors, Leung says. Google will not only siphon off some of the advertising spend of online travel agents, but will also be able to use Frommer’s online content to offer more targeted search advertising campaigns, he adds.

Chris Brown, vice president of product strategy at online travel services company Orbitz LLC, will speak at the 2012 Internet Retailer Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum 2012 during a session entitled “Ready for a redesign? Learning from what you have to make your site better.”

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