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Google Buys Zagat

Sep 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Advertising

Google buys Zagat
Marissa Mayer, Google VP of Local, Maps and Location Services just blogged that she is thrilled that Google has acquired Zagat. Shes says that “Zagat provides people with a democratized, authentic and comprehensive view of where to eat, drink, stay, shop and play worldwide based on millions of reviews and ratings.”

This will be a tremendous boost to Google’s efforts to replace the Yellow Pages with local information that is useful to people searching Google Local. Google wanted to use Yelp but was unable to buy the company and has run into difficulty using the Yelp reviews freely. Zagat has a trusted reputation, even if it is not as hot as it once was.

Some New York Times readers scoffed at the acquisition, including Lyle Vos, who claims to be the Democratic candidate for president in 2012 (so consider his reliability). He says:

Nobody has used Zagat since 1997, Maybe Google would be interested in buying my Sony Walkman or my 8 Track collection.

While it may be true that New Yorkers use Zagat more as a directory than a reliable rating source, the rating technique will translate well for places like Santa Rosa which has considerable tourist traffic. There are restaurants with excellent food that will never have great websites because the owners and chef are not writers and don’t want to spend the time updating a blog and tweeting. Nevertheless, they should be able to enjoy new business based on excellent food. Reliable ratings is a great way to do it.

I think Marissa Mayer may find a big challenge in keeping the ratings as honest as possible. I am seeing an uptick in spam mail offering “reputation management” which is a fancy way of offering to revise the reviews. This may turn into an interesting duel.

What do you think? Would you try a place that was recommended on, ahem, Zagoogle?

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