Google travel revenues grow but ‘sensitive’ to business climate

Advertising revenue from Google‘s travel vertical is showing “healthy growth” despite being exposed to the macro-economic slowdown.

The UK is also holding up, according to statements in Google’s Q1 08 results issued late last week, with overall UK revenues in at $803 million, 16% more than Q4 07.

Chief financial officer George Reyes told Wall Street analysts that the UK growth was driven by the “rebound” in the travel and financial verticals. The improvement was “expected” and “typical” of its Q4/Q1 sequential growth patterns for the UK.

He added that growth across its EMEA region was “primarily driven by strong performance in the UK, Benelux and the Nordic countries fuelled by strong pan-European performance in travel”.

Jonathan Rosenberg, senior VP of product management, told analysts that travel is one of four sectors which Google has identified as “sensitive to a slowing macro-economic climate”. The others are luxury goods, automotive and finance.

“What we tend to see is that clicks in some of those sensitive areas do grow a little less rapidly than our overall growth so the share of their total queries is actually down,” he said, “but on an absolute basis, they are all showing healthy growth in ad revenue.”

Rosenburg also said: “In the UK, people are clicking on travel and local ads at a higher rate than they do in the US.”

Google’s SEC filing also revealed: “As of March 31, 2008, cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $12.1 billion.”

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