Will Google become a content publisher, in travel and other subject areas? Google is the most prominent player in search. Could Google also become major in content? The answer could have long term consequences for all the non-fiction authors in BAIPA. Will Google do its own publishing projects about your subject?
Google is moving ahead in my subject area, which is travel. Google asked me to participate with Local Tips in the San Francisco segment of its new travel content product, Touringbird. The project now covers 20 major worldwide cities.
As a result of this invitation, I have seven such tips in the rollout.
Because of Google’s prominence in anything it touches, this development is likely to interest the travel journalism community and possibly other author-content communities.
The product, Touringbird, is visible on mobile and desktop at www.touringbird.com.
It appears to be a website with all the facility of an app.
The product seems like it is designed to help travelers figure out the most prominent things and then the hidden things to visit in a city. Most noteworthy, it offers free or paid touring suggestions. Certainly, the website has information, local tips, and booking options all in one place. Most of my Local Tips are for free. Probably, the long term revenue for the product seems to be based on affiliate tour sales.
From Google Incubator in Switzerland
I enjoyed working with Google on my San Francisco content. Furthermore, I like to supply local expert travel tips to anyone. I am a San Francisco Bay Area and California specialist.
The Google payment to me for content comes in two forms: some cash money and some “Google juice,” meaning Google’s beneficial promotion of me and my website.
The cash money in Euros went into a new Payoneer account that they required that I set up.
The “Google juice” is the way my bio, bio photo, and website reference to fostertravel.com gets carried forward (visible but not live) in the product. Every time someone looks at my tips, my identity shows. I find “Google juice” moderately addictive.
The project proceeded forward quickly, managed by a highly competent editor, Marla Cimini, who knew exactly what she wanted.
Timing was tight. I had to juggle other assignments. I wish I could have had more time and gotten more items into the rollout.
The entire operation was run out of a Google “incubator” in Switzerland, mysteriously called Area 120. My contact’s name is Sher Khan. I must say I Iove the internationalism and youthfulness of this entire can-do team.
My Local Expert Tips
My first items in the system (seven of them live at rollout) are
- Witness the nightly art illumination of the Bay Bridge
- Hike lovely Limantour Beach at Point Reyes
- Hang out with two-ton Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo
- Immerse yourself in the nostalgic Beach Chalet murals
- Visit Precita Eyes gallery to enjoy the Mission District
- Run away with Elvis
- Peruse an authentic herb shop
- See where sourdough bread was invented
I have an opportunity to contribute more as the product develops.
The operative word for the product appears to be “experiences.”
Google is counting on the average modern traveler to want an ever more “special” experience.
My instructions for choosing subjects for tips included guidance that the ideas must be so new and special that “they wouldn’t be found in guidebooks.”
The Prominence of Google and Airbnb
My encounters with Google are always watchful and respectful. Above all, Google provides perhaps 80 percent of the traffic for the 480 articles on my website with their search. Google has paid me a little cash money every day since 2002 for Google Adsense Ads running on my website.
My participation in Google reminded me of my recent immersion in the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco. Some of you may have read my write-up with photos on that.
Airbnb is the world of the gifted, talented, healthy, and wealthy young. Consequently, my presence at age 75 raised the temporary demographic in the building to slightly above 25.
The similarity between Google and Airbnb is on “experiences.” Though Airbnb is a lodging company, if you look at its website, you will see also many special tours and much travel content. Tour write-ups are a major part of their operation. They call this segment of Airbnb “Experiences,” like “Guided Yoga on Baker Beach at Sunset before the Golden Gate Bridge.”
The Google product seems to be based on the assumption that a traveler will want to tackle the major attractions in a destination in the first day or two, then move on to a private and immersive personal experience in the remaining days. The website seems to address the person who has a few days to a week to look at a destination.
Who knows where Google will go next in its efforts to develop content publishing products and ventures?