Brian Chesky, Chairman and Co-Founder of Airbnb Inc., speaks during lunch at the Economic Club of New York on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, United States on Monday, March 13, 2017.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
According to Airbnb, Google’s search business prevented the home sharing company from reaping internet traffic. This is evident from documents the company filed in preparation for the sale of shares to the public.
Airbnb enables users to book short-term rentals and experiences while traveling. Among the “Risk Factors” in Airbnb’s S-1 filing, the company said Google preferred its own products to the company, which resulted in fewer online visitors to its website. Over the past year, Alphabet has added more search capabilities similar to travel websites, including for vacation rentals.
“We believe our SEO results have been impacted by the introduction of Google Travel and Google Vacation Rental Ads, which are reducing our platform’s awareness of organic search results for travel-related terms and ranking on Google,” the prospectus reads.
Airbnb explains SEO, or search engine optimization, as the practice of tweaking content so that it gets more prominent in search results without paying for placement.
“We concentrate on unpaid channels like SEO,” says the prospectus. “SEO involves developing our platform in a way that enables a search engine to rank our platform prominently for search queries to which the content of our platform might be relevant. Changes to search engine algorithms or similar actions are beyond our control and can have a detrimental effect our impact search engine rankings and traffic to our platform. “
The company warns that persistent problems with search rankings could lead it to spend more on marketing.
“To the extent that our brand and platform are less prominently listed or for some reason not appearing in search results, we would have to increase our paid marketing spend, which would increase our overall cost of customer acquisition and significantly affect our business operations and financial condition. “
The Justice Department filed its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet last month, alleging the company illegally maintained a monopoly on the search by cutting off rivals from key distribution channels. Alphabet rejected the argument, saying it had many competitors and that its services would help consumers.
Airbnb and Alphabet have a joint board member, Ann Mather.
Airbnb’s statements follow other tour guides who have criticized Google’s impact on the travel industry. Stephen Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor, a longtime critic of Google, told CNBC last month that he welcomed the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against the Alphabet search engine, saying the company was “leveraging its dominance in internet gatekeeping at the expense of other companies.”
Peter Kern, Expedia CEO, recently said, “We have no ax against Google other than we don’t think the market is fair.”
Google did not immediately return a request for a comment.
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