Google has been fined billions of dollars in the European Union for similar practices that are allegedly happening in the U.S.
Expedia increased spending 10 times over five years to advertise vacation home rentals on Google, but the online travel agency saw no increase in traffic because the search giant has been prioritizing its own flight and hotel products.
That’s according to Jeff Hurst, Expedia’s former chief operating officer, who testified in front of a federal judge on Thursday during an antitrust trial against Google, as reported by Bloomberg.
He said that even though Expedia’s costs for advertising Vrbo on Google grew from $21 million in 2015 to $290 million in 2019, the number of people who visit the short-term rental site — roughly 500 million annually — has not shifted, the Bloomberg story stated.
The ongoing antitrust lawsuit is based on the allegations that Google’s dominance in search has allowed it to push forward unfair practices and raise prices on advertisers.
Executives from Booking, JPMorgan Chase, and Home Depot have made similar comments over the past week, as Bloomberg has reported.
Hurst and Google did not respond to requests for comment.
Mark Okerstrom, former CEO of Expedia, said in 2019 during a public meeting that Google had been steering more consumers to Google Hotel Ads or Google Flights than it had historically, and that those moves resulted in a “traffic shift” for Expedia.
And that led Expedia to spend more on search engine advertising. Though Okerstrom said at the time that the company was pleased with those returns, the results were not as good as when the company turned up more often in organic search.
Tripadvisor had a similar sentiment at that time.
“We believe our most significant challenge remains Google pushing its own hotel products in search results and siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor via free links and generate high-margin revenue in our hotel click-based auction,” TripAdvisor stated in 2019.
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Photo credit: A person performs a Google search on their mobile phone. Arkan Perdana / Unsplash