In a bid to revive its fortunes, travel platform Tripadvisor is undergoing a significant turnaround effort under the leadership of its newly appointed CEO in 2022. One of the key factors driving this necessity for change is Google’s dominant market position, which has redirected users to sponsored ads, eroding Tripadvisor’s share of free traffic it once enjoyed.
Back in 2012, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission revealed that Google had been utilizing Tripadvisor’s user reviews on Google.com without obtaining Tripadvisor’s consent, a practice that was subsequently halted. Today, Google has established its own repository of user-generated reviews.
Surprisingly, Tripadvisor’s CEO, Matt Goldberg, recently shared during an investor conference that the company is engaged in “really good conversations” with Google regarding a potential partnership. Goldberg explained, “When I say they [Google] want us to exist, that’s for multiple reasons. Number one, they’ve got regulatory challenges. They would like to have competitors in these spaces. They do not want to destroy the competition… We are a paying user of Google. They want us to continue to pay. And so we have really good conversations around how we can differentiate, how we can focus on what we’re going to do best, and how we can partner there.”
It should be noted that Tripadvisor and its subsidiary Viator already allocate significant funds towards Google ads and other sponsored placements. However, Google is intensifying its efforts in the “things to do” segment, and Tripadvisor/Viator currently holds a dominant position in this market. This presents potential opportunities for a deeper relationship between the two entities.
Over the years, Tripadvisor has been one of the most vocal critics in the travel industry, advocating for regulatory measures to level the playing field in response to Google’s business practices, which impact both competitors and, some argue, travelers.
Goldberg acknowledged that Tripadvisor is not approaching discussions with Google naively. “And of course, we’re not rosy-eyed about it,” he stated. “We recognize that Google has, in many ways, favored their own monetization, and that’s had an impact on us. But we are very focused on differentiating and finding ways that we can cooperate that will be effective for us.”