Peter Kern, Expedia Group
"Hopefully, it will create a fair marketplace for us, which is all we want. We have no axe to grind against Google, except that we don’t think the marketplace is equitable.”
Quote from Peter Kern, CEO and vice chairman of Expedia Group, in an article on PhocusWire this week on the travel industry's response to the U.S. government's antitrust suit against Google.
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It would be fair to say that the Google antitrust probe is unlikely to appease the travel industry.
Regulators are certainly going to give it a level of scrutiny that it hasn't seen for some time (unless you count the countless articles in the press).
But it will perhaps take a brave lawmaker to impose the raft of changes that many of Google's detractors are seeking - something that skeptics of process are already fearing.
The basis of the travel industry's irritation/anger (delete whichever word doesn't suit your point of view) is that Google preferences its own products ahead of those that pay good money to be there, or have worked tirelessly over many years to produce valuable content for travelers.
This reduces consumer choice and means the playing field is far from being level in the marketplace at the top of the search funnel, they say.
That hundreds of brands collectively billions of dollars every year (even this year) on Google advertising indicates that they either have no other viable and effective alternative yet or the performance of those campaigns still largely work out pretty well for them.
"Fairness" is a word that gets used a lot when it comes to the Google discussion, yet if U.S. lawmakers did crack down heavily on the company and, for example, broke up some of the business units or reined in its on-site search practices, where would that leave the travel sector?
Some argue that those with large coffers to dominate search advertising (as they have for years) would not hesitate to take advantage of the new landscape, shifting the emphasis on their abilities and activities once more.
Whatever happens in the coming months (perhaps even years) with the antitrust suit, travel en masse will not be happy with outcome.
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