Expedia's Ex-COO Says Ad Fees Jumped After Google Remade Search

 Expedia's former chief operating officer testified in court that the company's search advertising costs on Google ballooned 10 times over a five-year period after the search engine remade its search results to showcase its own flight and hotel information.

Jeff Hurst's testimony came during the ongoing antitrust trial against Google, in which the Justice Department is alleging that the company has illegally maintained a monopoly over search.

Hurst said that Expedia's search advertising costs grew from $21 million in 2015 to $290 million in 2019, even though the number of people visiting Expedia's Vrbo website from Google remained roughly the same. He blamed the increase in ad costs on Google's changes to its search results, which he said made it more difficult for Expedia and other travel websites to compete.

"Google has a self-preferencing problem," Hurst said. "They are giving their own products and services an unfair advantage over their competitors."

Hurst's testimony echoed that of other witnesses who have testified in the trial, including executives from JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, and Booking Holdings. All of these companies have said that Google's dominance in the search market has given it too much power over advertisers.

Google has denied the allegations against it, saying that its search results are designed to be fair and relevant to users. The company has also said that its changes to its search results have not benefited its own products and services at the expense of its competitors.

The trial is expected to last for several more weeks. If the Justice Department is successful, Google could be forced to make changes to its business practices, which could have a significant impact on the search engine market.