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Google Acquires Online Travel Guide Ruba
Brett_Tabke




msg:4137043
 2:16 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

[techcrunch.com...]

Google has acquired online travel guide and community Ruba. Ruba is a visual travel guide and tour review site that provides travelers with visual guides written by other travelers. The blog post is embedded below. Google has confirmed the acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ruba offer users a way to visually browse through cities and their attractions around the world, offering photo-rich guides and an emphasis on making it easy to quickly discover new locations. The site is headed by Mike Cassidy, who has founded a number of successful companies, including Xfire, which sold to Viacom in 2006 for $102 million.

Guides are all written and submitted by users, with Ruba pulling from Google and Flickr APIs to help pinpoint locations and provide some sample photos (users can submit their own, too). The site, which is similar in some ways to TripAdvisor, features integration with Twitter and Facebook Connect, allowing users to broadcast where they’re headed and ask friends for input.

 

graeme_p




msg:4137104
 5:54 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

It looks like they have not acquired the site, but the team that developed it. Not sure how that works for Ruba itself.

wolfadeus




msg:4137143
 8:11 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

What exactly can you purchase? Is there IP involved apart from the content?

Whitey




msg:4137162
 9:43 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

And the greatest avenue to the content is Google's co operation , so no need to buy. Yet?

incrediBILL




msg:4137176
 10:46 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Heads up people, this is where Google starts to become the destination and not just the search engine.

It's already happening in Google Maps where reviews of local businesses are displayed without ever taking the end user to the review site, no revenue for them.

Everyone doing travel sites has just had their walking papers handed to them.

Who's next?

Allowing Google to index your site is good.

Allowing Google to mashup your content and control the visitor is bad.

Eventually, they'll run most of us out of business and whoever is left will be hanging by a thread with no traffic.

mromero




msg:4137184
 11:45 pm on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL I don't know. Perusing the site and looking at one destination most all the entries appear to be by rank amateurs - travelers that have left their impressions. I see some untoward gliches, for e.g. images in the public domain listed as Picture By Widget Sales with a link thereof to the alleged site that took the picture. A cut below TripAdvisor which is itself not an authoritative source for specific destinations. But yes, it adds to the clutter and may well dilute the market for expert, in-country travel sites.

caribguy




msg:4137192
 12:07 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Authoritative destination sites need to continue doing what they do best: provide well researched and timely destination info. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, they should focus on a well defined niche and beat G's wooly pants in their segment.

I've heard it referred to as "Local is not a 1,000 pound Gorilla, but 1,000 one pound Chimps..."

Here's a controversial statement for you: the 'casual' searcher is just a waste of traffic. Destination sites should focus on unique content, garner the reader's trust and provide the ability to make transactions outside of the 'big brands' - it's a pretty scattered market out there, tons of growth potential in areas that G will never be able to touch...

mromero




msg:4137193
 12:08 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

This might be much bigger:

"New software called PlaceLocal builds display ads automatically, scouring the Internet for references to a neighborhood restaurant, a grocery store or another local business. Then it combines the photographs it finds with reviews, customer comments and other text into a customized online ad for the business."

[nytimes.com...]

explorador




msg:4137373
 4:55 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I read the note yesterday and was surprised. The rank and traffic is not too far away considering competitors in the travel field, so I wondered just like some of you "why".

IncrediBill Wrote:

Heads up people, this is where Google starts to become the destination and not just the search engine.

It's already happening in Google Maps where reviews of local businesses are displayed without ever taking the end user to the review site, no revenue for them.

Everyone doing travel sites has just had their walking papers handed to them.

I totally agree. I have some sites in that field and I refuse to use GMaps... I realize I would be feeding info for others to use. This sounds terrible let me say it in another way: "I will be working for free for others, and they will be creating sites with my info".

I created some tools on my own (hard work, lots of time...) to get around without using Gmaps. I rather stay this way unless I have some fair benefit on feeding other sites. The thing is not being selfish, is keeping it fair, I don't work for free.

... still this surprises me as what kind of sites might be in the eye of investors nowadays

jskrewson




msg:4137435
 10:00 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Heads up people, this is where Google starts to become the destination and not just the search engine.

I agree. I'm seeing this with e-commerce terms. Google Product Search is playing a larger role in the SERPs and organic listings are getting pushed off the page.

MrHard




msg:4137461
 11:48 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google Product Search is playing a larger role in the SERPs and organic listings are getting pushed off the page


Eventually Google could sell products directly, like a huge Amazon, getting paid not only from ad spend, but from product purchases as well. Like a huge affiliate who gets paid in every case and it not at the whims of advertisers lowering their adwords spend.

gethan




msg:4137509
 5:03 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I came here to eat breakfast during the summer. I love the hash browns and eggs with cheese. Next time I will order the coffee.

http://www.ruba.com/place/Hardware_Cafe_General_Store-566_Main_Street_Fair_Haven_NY

The above is a sample of reviews from the "Number One" reviewer from the Ruba.com community.

Ruba.com is mashups and presentation and very little else in it's current form.

Why did google buy ruba in particular? - it's nothing special compared to all the competing UGC google maps based sites - the only good content in it seems to come from wcities.com.

"Heads up people, this is where Google starts to become the destination and not just the search engine."

Agreed Bill - is this the first in a series of purchases? - or a one off acquisition to flesh out google local and give local/maps on mobile a ton of content?

oodlum




msg:4137542
 8:46 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I will be working for free for others, and they will be creating sites with my info"


You've nicely summed up Google's business model, explorador.

londrum




msg:4137567
 9:37 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Eventually Google could sell products directly, like a huge Amazon, getting paid not only from ad spend, but from product purchases as well. Like a huge affiliate who gets paid in every case and it not at the whims of advertisers lowering their adwords spend.


it's a bit dangerous for google to go down that route, i think. if people start to think of google as a shop, then what happens when a purchase messes up? if amazon fail to deliver a product i shop somewhere else. if people think google messed up then they shop somewhere else too -- taking away all the other traffic as well, like search.

they can't start listing prices all over the place either, because if people get it in their heads they can find cheaper prices listed elsewhere, then they'll vote with their feet. and google wouldn't want to just print the cheapest ones, because that wouldn't be impartial enough.

Whitey




msg:4137594
 10:29 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I really don't know what Google thinks , but i suppose such a lot of advertising revenue is generated in the travel and tourism area that Google want's to keep it's toe in the water , so to speak on continuing to capture as much related content as it can.

But like any other vertical , they won't control it ( my guess ), but they can strongly influence how it evolves. My sense is that there will come a day soon , when SE / Travel search is a lot less dominated by Google and depending on which other verticals you are in, other applications and networking systems may well become more dominant.

Flavour of the month is Facebook at the moment. Who needs Ruba / Google with good creative interactivity within FB and others ( I'm just challenging thoughts here )

Telecoms is another such vertical that will bounce back, i think. Then where will content relationships such as Ruba sit.

The threats to Google keep mounting and it will just reach a threshold ( like Microsoft ) and stick to it's core.

travelin cat




msg:4137728
 2:41 pm on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Everyone doing travel sites has just had their walking papers handed to them.


No. Not really. "Travel sites" is far too generic of a term to say something like that. This site does not compete with sites I work on even remotely.

Even if this is the beginning of Google entering the travel market in a bigger way, they could never possibly eliminate niches that people have developed over many years.

walrus




msg:4137729
 2:44 pm on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Search, Maps, ECom, movies, phones, travel....i guess games will be next. No wonder they sent out all those 100.00 adwords coupons. Looks like we're gonna need em.

they could never possibly eliminate niches that people have developed over many years.

True, but combined with the new bells and whistles, and the further push below the fold, there is a strong chance of a gradual decline. At least for those depending on search traffic.

Whitey




msg:4138069
 11:17 pm on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I guess the challenge for those who rely soley on search traffic from Google , is to innovate ways that integrate with the above diversifications.

Although a site can be unique in it's niche , it's important to have in mind the need to move with the times.

tivrfoa




msg:4138124
 2:02 am on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's one of my goals: create a nice product and sell it to a big company. =)

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4138253
 7:52 am on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Heads up people, this is where Google starts to become the destination and not just the search engine.


That's true, and acceptable, until they give preferential treatment to themselves in their own search engine pages. A sidebar full of Google sites on Google results pages is unfair to sites that can't possibly get onto that sidebar. If keeping search results pages clean and unbiased is important to Google they'll not link to their own sites from search results bars.

Bing is worse on this, by a lot actually.

As for Ruba, it looks like the flickr of travel review sites where a mix of photography makes it a winner. It looks hard to monetize however BUT those user reviews themselves are top notch content. It's not easy getting people to WANT to take the time to provide quality reviews and pictures for free and Ruba seems to have gotten them to do that which is why Google is interested.

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