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Ryanair calls on Google to curb sponsored screen-scapers taking its search topspot

Budget airline Ryanair has called on Google to tackle screen-scraper websites appearing above it in Google search.

The business has complained to Google about screen-scrapers - sites which trawl existing sites for data - in this case to administrate cheap flights.

The airline says sites such as eDreams, which display Ryanair flight data, appear above it due to them investing in Google's sponsored search. It shared stills of the eDreams ad featuring prominently in a search for Ryanair.

This nuance sees eDreams actually rank higher than the Ryanair with consumers also using the portal to book their flights.

Although not an issue in itself, the airline claims the scrapers are “masquerading” as the brand quoting a ruling from the court of Hamburg that eDreams was indeed using an unlawful domain that implied a partnership between the companies.

The allegations continue.

Ryanair stated that the scrapers provide shoppers with outdated or inaccurate information (such as little to no mention of Ryanair’s infamous hidden charges which are at least outlined in the official website). Furthermore, the customer details are rarely passed onto the airline meaning it cannot contact them if there’s any change in the flight manifest.

To clamp down upon the practises, Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs has called upon Google to “enforce greater transparency on its advertising rules, to prevent European customers being misled and overcharged”.

Jacobs added: “Ryanair has received numerous complaints from our customers who have inadvertently purchased Ryanair flights on the eDreams website, as a direct result of the misleading advertising provided by Google… [where it has been] offering customers a substandard service, with additional fees, or by often selling fares that don’t even exist.

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

Jacobs urged that the brand will continue action against screen-scraper websites such as eDreams.

The Drum has reached out to Google and eDreams and will update accordingly.