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Google’s Vacation Rentals Targeted by Travel Firms in EU Letter

Aoife White

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Expedia Group Inc., TripAdvisor Inc. and eDreams Odigeo SA asked the European Union to investigate how Google shows vacation rentals, claiming it unfairly gets a prominent placing above other search results.

In a letter to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager published online, more than 30 travel firms allege that Google is “favoring its own service in general search results pages” by displaying ads “in a visually-rich OneBox” showing pictures, a map preview, ratings and prices. The display “secures Google’s service more user attention and clicks than any competing service may acquire.”

Google was fined in 2017 for how it displayed product ads above search queries and told to offer similar placement to rival shopping comparison services. It will fight that EU decision at a three-day court hearing later this week. Dozens of companies have complained to the EU about how Google search shows competing search services. Regulators sought feedback last year on local search and jobs search services.

Google said statement that it is testing a new format for specialized searches in Europe “where people might see a carousel of links to direct sites across the top of search results.”

“This is designed to demonstrate the range of results available,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email. “Search results are designed to provide the most relevant information for your query.”

The Financial Times reported on the letter earlier on Monday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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