Briefing

As their shares tank, Expedia and TripAdvisor blame Google

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Both online search companies’ third-quarter earnings missed analyst estimates. Expedia shares plummeted 27.39 per cent on the news—the company’s biggest single-day drop on record—while TripAdvisor’s fell 22.41 per cent. In conference calls, the CEOs of both companies pointed to Google’s role in stifling their search presence. (Bloomberg, MarketWatch)

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Talking point: In the past five years, Google has been placing more paid ads at the top of search results, pushing free listings from travel websites further down the page. The travel companies say this has made it harder to drive traffic to their sites without paying the search engine hefty sums to ensure their placement atop the results. Google’s travel-search policies are within the scope of an ongoing, sweeping antitrust probe in the U.S.—attorneys general from 50 states and territories from both sides of the political divide have now joined the investigation, led by Republican Ken Paxton of Texas. The CEOs’ comments could well figure into the probe as the regulators look to determine whether the search giant unfairly wields its industry dominance to stifle competition.