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European Retailers Say Google Search Changes Favor Online Aggregators

Google, search results

The European Union (EU) is currently facing concerns from lobbying groups representing airlines, hotels and retailers regarding Google’s proposed search changes.

These groups are urging EU tech regulators to consider their views and not just those of large intermediaries when implementing new tech rules, Reuters reported Friday (May 24).

The changes are part of the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to provide users with more choice and give rivals a fair chance to compete, according to the report. However, the industry groups fear that these adjustments could negatively impact their revenues.

Airlines for Europe, a group that includes Air France KLM and British Airways owner IAG, along with hotel groups Hotrec and European Hotel Forum, and retail associations EuroCommerceEcommerce Europe and Independent Retail Europe, have expressed their concerns about the potential impact of the new rules, the report said.

They argue that the changes could lead to a depletion of direct sales revenues for companies, as powerful online intermediaries would receive preferential treatment and gain more prominence in search results, per the report.

The lobbying groups have written a joint letter to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton, expressing their worries about the current solutions and requirements for implementing the DMA, according to the report.

They believe that these changes could harm their businesses. The industry groups are concerned that the investigation into Google’s compliance with the DMA only focuses on the fair treatment of third-party services, without acknowledging the European businesses that also offer their services on Google, the report said.

Google, in a blog post from March, stated that the changes to search results would benefit large intermediaries and aggregators by providing them with more traffic. However, these changes would also result in less visibility for hotels, airlines, merchants and restaurants, per the post.

It was reported in March that Google made significant alterations to its search results and developer tools in a bid to adhere to the DMA rules.

The company said it aimed to comply with the DMA while maintaining its service quality and user experience. Alterations to search results were among the key modifications.

Google’s move came after criticism from rival comparison sites, some of which filed a complaint that resulted in a 2.42-billion-euro ($2.63 billion) EU antitrust fine against the company.