In 2010, a group of travel sites banded together to form the FairSearch Coalition, with the main goal of seeing Google’s acquisition of ITA Software blocked. It didn’t work, but the coalition is still going strong, fighting to see antitrust action taken against Google.
The coalition, made up of Google competitors, including main competitor Microsoft, is expanding more beyond travel sites now. The coalition announced today that it has added not only new members in travel, but also members in e-commerce and advertising.
New members include: PPC ad company adMarketplace, online travel industry trade group the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA), online shopping site Twenga and marketing firm ShopCity.com.
You may recall, ShopCity filed an antitrust complaint against Google with the FTC a couple months ago:
For most of its existence, ShopCity’s growth has been thwarted by unjustified Google penalties and anticompetitive Google prefacing. These matters were realized in writing with the Commission staff months ago, but the staff has not followed up in any respect.
“When a company begins competing directly with Google, in a market where they are not yet the dominant player, Google will make it very difficult to succeed,” says ShopCity CEO Colin Pape today. “In the process, Google harms consumers by steering them away from relevant results, solely for Google’s own financial benefit.”
“We believe that Google uses its monopoly power to distort the marketplace by steering consumers away from the natural search results available for travel online,” says ITSA President Joseph Rubin. “Further, the online travel companies are required to provide various consumer disclosures with their listings. Our members think consumers deserve the protection of those disclosures that we provide, and that Google Flight Search in many cases does not.”
Twenga filed a complaint with the European Commission earlier this week, asking it to stop Google’s “anti-competitive business and search practices”. Twenga says these “undermine jobs and innovation in the European Union.”
Interestingly enough Google was in Brussels this week with members of the Commission talking about how businesses are growing, thanks to the Internet.
“By systematically ranking its own offerings over links to competitors, Google uses its dominant power to hurt other businesses rather than competing fairly in the marketplace,” says Bastien Duclaux, co-founder and CEO of Twenga. “Google’s abuse of its monopoly power in search threatens the ability of innovators everywhere to reach consumers on the Internet. Google has created the conditions for an uneven playing field in which it is predetermined to always emerge as the winner.”
adMarketplace CEO James Hill says, “As media industry veterans, we have built a compelling search advertising network. Every day, our client teams hear from potential customers and publishers that Google makes it difficult for them to work with other advertising networks. A level playing field is critical to a competitive online advertising marketplace – and that does not exist today because of Google’s practices.”
You can see a recent interview we did with FairSearch here, as well well as an interview TechFreedom, arguing against the merits of the coalition’s agenda.