From a New York Times article, Google to Use Zagat to Refine Local Search, Google bought Zagat last year for $151 million and now has integrated Zagat with a new free service, Google Plus Local, intended to enhance Google’s growing, potentially lucrative local information offerings. Google Plus Local will adopt Zagat’s rating scale and anyone who signs up for Google Plus Local will see Zagat’s reviews and content for free. Zagat reviews and other local information can also be accessed through the Google search engine, Google Plus and Google Maps.
Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for local search and maps has said that Google intends to create “pages for all known places”. Ms. Mayer said that 20 percent of all searches in Google are for nearby information and 40 percent for those using mobile phones. Analysts have estimated that local online advertising is a growing market worth $140 billion per year.
After reading this article, I believe Google is betting that since Zagat is a reputable brand when it comes to ratings and reviews, more people will be inclined to use Google Plus Local for researching restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. If that’s the case, Google will have accomplished two things: first is keeping searches on Google and second is getting new and current Google users to use Google Plus, Google’s own social network.
Do you think Google’s strategy of leverging it’s Google Plus brand with Zagat will work? How will other review sites such as Yelp, citySearch, UrbanSpoon, and OpenTable be affected?