Ryanair challenges Google on ad transparency

Airline says screen-scraper’s position on search results is misleading customers

Kenny Jacobs Ryanair’s chief marketing officer. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons /The Irish Times

Kenny Jacobs Ryanair’s chief marketing officer. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons /The Irish Times

 

Irish airline Ryanair is taking on internet giant Google in its battle against online intermediaries that it says wrongly sell its flights to consumers at inflated charges.

Ryanair has taken a series of successful court cases in a number of European countries to prevent screen-scraper websites from selling tickets on its flights without the carrier’s permission.

On Tuesday, the airline demanded that internet search giant Google enforce greater transparency in online advertising to prevent Ryanair customers being “misled” into buying their flights from screen-scraper sites.

Ryanair says that websites such as eDreams are paying Google to have their ads ranked above the company’s own site, so that they top the list of results when consumers search for the airline.

It argues that this leads to customers booking their flights through the eDreams website rather than Ryanair’s own.

As a result, the carrier says, they are subject to hidden charges and their contact details are not passed on to Ryanair, which means that they miss out on up-to-date flight information.

A German court recently ruled that eDreams had been using an unlawful subdomain and was misleading customers into thinking that it had an official partnership with Ryanair.

The airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said that “numerous” customers have complained to it that eDreams ad on Google had inadvertently led to them buying flights through the screen-scraper’s site.

“EDreams has been unlawfully selling Ryanair flights, by masquerading as Ryanair.com, and then offering customers a substandard service, with additional fees, or by often selling fares that don’t even exist,” Mr Jacobs said.

“While we have no issue with Google advertising in general, it is unfair that it is used as a mechanism to mislead customers.”

He added that Irish and British customers, who bought tickets through eDreams, had particular difficulties getting flight information and in checking in online.

It was not possible to contact Google for a comment.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.