On Thursday, Google announced it would acquire ITA, a travel software firm, and immediately launched the requisite website pro-actively lobbying to get the deal approved by regulators.
I shared the following POV on the implications of the Google ITA acquisition with Laurie Sullivan of MediaPost for her article, “Google Buys ITA Travel Software Co. For $700 Million Cash, Dings Bing.”
Let’s start with advantages to users, which is always how Google thinks about things. The future of search utility is not in links but in actions. In my book [Chapter 21: Future Proofing, to be exact] I talk about how the future is search-and-act engines or “app-ssistants” like Siri (which Apple bought) that allow you to give instructions rather than submit queries and deliver actions not just links. So for example, if you’re planning a trip you can just tell your app-ssistant, “Chicago to New York for pleasure” and it will fetch you an itinerary with airlines, hotel, car rental, dinner reservations, theater tickets, etc. all based on your saved preferences. In this example, a product like ITA is critical to gathering and organizing much of the data needed to complete the action.
For advertisers, the advantages are a little less obvious. Long-term, search-and-act engines will provide tremendous opportunities to brands that have digitized and distributed their assets [as outlined in Chapter 17: Show Off Your Assets] so app-ssistants can find them and include them in the actions they deliver. Short-term, ITA likely means more traffic to Google and, importantly, more commercial queries that advertisers love because they represent someone ready to buy, read: strong ROI. [More on this in Chapter 4: Mindset Matters.]
For Google, more commercial queries mean more ad revenue. Also, Bing has been playing up its strengths in travel with Farecast integration. This deal should give Google the decided edge and help it retain share.
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