Google buys Zagat, but no coverage south of the Equator

Google has bought gastronomic capsule-review bible, Zagat. From the Google blog:

So, today, I’m thrilled that Google has acquired Zagat. Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world.

Which is great news, if you happen to live in the top half of the world. Zagat doesn’t have a single guide that covers anywhere further south than Barbados.

For food writing in Australia and New Zealand this means one of two things:

  1. Google buys a local food publication. They’ve got infinitely deep pockets, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I just can’t think of anyone worth buying or that isn’t chained to some other empire.
  2. Google opens a Zagat office here. And watch the food editors flee from their offline posts.

2 Comments Google buys Zagat, but no coverage south of the Equator

  1. Ed

    I wonder how long it will take Google to move their food eye to here though?

    I hope iif they do they can introduce new blood rather than just buy in to the roster of the same old (media) people.

    Yelp is opening in Australia soon. I just wonder if they really understand how small the Australian market is though.

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  2. Phil Lees

    I think that the real value in buying Zagat is buying the userbase rather than the content – you can buy capsule reviews from pretty much anyone who writes them, although Zagat does have a good record for surfacing quality reviews, unlike Yelp or Urbanspoon. The problem here will be building a group of people committed to writing trustworthy reviews for free as Zagat has done in the US when the pool is so tiny.

    According to Google’s adwords tool, there’s somewhere in the vicinity of 3.5 million searches for “restaurant” each month in Australia – and I’m sure that the intent behind the bulk of those is finding something local – so it’s something of a motivator. On the downside, Google is so dominant in Australia, that there isn’t much motivation to pour more money into content here.

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