Posted April 10, 2013 8:39 am by with 1 comment

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google-logoGoogle is really interesting at times. Well, let’s just say most times.

Just recently the company sold the rights to Frommer’s Travel Guides back to the owner that they had purchased the company from last August. The BBC reported

Arthur Frommer told the AP news agency that he will publish the guides in both print and electronic form, in addition to operating the Frommer’s website.

Google, which bought Frommer’s last August, confirmed to AP that it had returned the brand to its founder.

Google also told the news agency that the travel content it had gained from Frommer’s had been integrated into its various services, such as Google Plus and Maps, which offer users advice on local services such as hotels and restaurants.

So what was Google’s end game? The last paragraph is the clue. As reported by paidContent it was all about the social Benjamin’s. Apparently the new currency in the social world are social accounts. Brand schmand, Google wants the social capital.

Mystery solved. Many were scratching their heads over why Google sold Frommer’s Travel Guides this month — less than a year after buying the brand for $22 million. The answer is the same as for why Google does nearly anything: data.

As Skift reported Tuesday, Google handed over the company to founder Arthur Frommer sans social media accounts. In other words, Google is keeping all of the followers that Frommer’s accrued on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. These thousands — or more likely millions — of accounts are valuable because they represent a huge collection of serious travel enthusiasts.

Those accounts have now been absorbed under the Zagat’s brand as seen by this announcement on Twitter.

What was left of the Frommer’s carcass and just how effective it can be without any social presence remains to be seen. At this point though that is for Frommer’s to figure out and since part of their plan is to go back to printing the guide, well, we wish them luck.

Google is taking an interesting tact in working around the social reality that they don’t have access to Twitter and Facebook like they need in order to truly get a social read on most anything. It’s a troubling aspect of the company’s look forward. As a result, they have needed to get creative and this is certainly one way to do it.

Google responded to paidContent with the following

We’re focused on providing high-quality local information to help people quickly discover and share great places, like a nearby restaurant or the perfect vacation destination. That’s why we’ve spent the last several months integrating the travel content we acquired from Wiley into Google+ Local and our other Google services. We can confirm that we have returned the Frommer’s brand to its founder and are licensing certain travel content to him.

While there is much talk about vertical search and how it may be part of the future could it be that vertical social is part of the same strategy? Do you need the information of EVERYONE or just those that are truly dedicated to the particular subject matter? Can Google gather up large chunks of key social accounts in important verticals and play a game that maybe the others can’t? Remains to be seen but from now on when Google makes a purchase, it would be wise to look under the hood at the social properties involved to see why Google really made a deal.

Do you agree?