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     *  Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech
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     *  Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech
     *  COVID-19 weekly deaths drop another 40% in Seattle area, cases reach lowest total in two months
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     *  Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern: ‘Google’s a problem for everyone who sells something online’

   Trending: Weather forces delay for SpaceX’s historic launch of NASA’s first Dragon riders to the space station

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern: ‘Google’s a problem for everyone who sells something online’

   by Todd Bishop on May 22, 2020 at 10:44 amMay 22, 2020 at 11:07 am

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   Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern. (Expedia Group Photo)

   Expedia Group’s new CEO isn’t mincing words about one of the company’s biggest challenges: Google’s dual role as a rival in online travel, and a key source of customers through search traffic and paid advertising.

   “I think Google’s a problem — it’s a problem for everyone who sells something online, and we all have to struggle with that,” Peter Kern said during an appearance on CNBC on Friday morning, following his first earnings report as the CEO of the Seattle-based online travel giant.

   His comments come amid reports that U.S. antitrust regulators are preparing a case against the search giant, focusing on its dominance of digital ads.

   This Google conundrum is a recurring topic for Expedia Group, but Kern appears to be taking a different approach than his predecessor Mark Okerstrom did before he was ousted from the role last fall. Appearing on CNBC this morning, Kern says Expedia needs to learn to rely less on performance marketing, a form of advertising in which the cost is based on a specific outcome such as a click or sales lead.

     “We just haven’t been as good on some of the basic blocking and tackling things that allow you to rely less on Google. And so we’ve used Google and performance marketing as our primary lever of whether we could grow at a certain rate or not, but we haven’t been great at merchandising, we haven’t been great at understanding the customer. We never had data across all our brands to understand if a customer had been at another of our brands and moved to a different one. We often competed in performance marketing auctions, our own brands against themselves. So we have a lot of our own work to do and to my eye, that means we have a lot of upside that is fully not reliant on Google or performance marketing.”

   Expedia also addressed the Google issue in its quarterly regulatory filing: “In addition to the growth of online travel agencies, we see increased interest in the online travel industry from search engine companies such as Google, evidenced by continued product enhancements, including new trip planning features for users and the integration of its various travel products into the Google Travel offering, as well as further prioritizing its own products in search results.”

   In its latest quarterly earnings report, Expedia Group’s total selling and marketing expense, including spending on search ads and traditional media, fell 20 percent to $1.2 billion. The company said it instituted “a significant reduction in marketing spend in March 2020 related to the impact on travel demand from COVID-19.”

   Expedia Group includes brands and sites such as Vrbo, Travelocity, Orbitz, HomeAway and many others, in addition to the flagship Expedia.com.

   For the first quarter, the company posted quarterly earnings per share of -$1.83 on revenue of $2.2 billion, down 15% year-over-year. Analysts expected earnings per share of -$1.23 and revenue of $2.2 billion. Kern said on a call with analysts and investors that the company “suffered a major reduction in business” due to the COVID-19 outbreak during the first quarter as the global pandemic halted travel.
   
   Todd Bishop is GeekWire's co-founder and editor, a longtime technology journalist who covers subjects including cloud tech, e-commerce, virtual reality, devices, apps and tech giants such as Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Google. Follow him @toddbishop, email todd@geekwire.com, or call (206) 294-6255.

Amazon helps to close the learning gap for students

   

   GeekWire’s coverage this month is underwritten by Amazon

   Amazon is donating 8,200 laptops to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) families to help all students within the state’s largest school district gain access to a device so they can continue their education at home.  The donation will help close the continuous learning gap for all students during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

   Read more about how Amazon is responding to COVID-19 here.

   Learn more about underwritten and sponsored content on GeekWire.
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   Filed Under: Tech  Tagged With: Expedia GroupPeter Kern

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     * Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech 
       Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech
     * COVID-19 weekly deaths drop another 40% in Seattle area, cases reach lowest total in two months 
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       Amazon dives deeper into video games, launches first big-budget title Crucible
     * This governor alarmed professors 22 years ago with his vision for distance learning in 2020 — here’s what he says today 
       This governor alarmed professors 22 years ago with his vision for distance learning in 2020 — here’s what he says today
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       Seattle-area software engineer charged for attempting to defraud CARES Act of $1.5M

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