Google reveals weakness in UK travel vertical

Search giant Google‘s UK performance in the first three months of 2009 was better than the previous quarter, but the period-on-period improvement was not as far-reaching as in previous years.

UK revenues for Q1 2009 came in at $733 million, a 7% improvement on Q4 2008, Google said in a statement last week.

However, this figure represents a 9% year-on-year decline.

Exchange rates have worked against Google since then, although Q1 2009’s UK return was boosted by a significant gain from the expiration of a set of pound hedges that were put in place in Q3 of 2008.

Google usually sees a lift in its UK revenues from travel in the first quarter of any year as it coincides with the peak booking season.

Travel search spend typically slows in Q4, hence the expectation of a quarter-on-quarter improvement.

However, this time Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pichette told analysts: “We did see a seasonal uptick in Q1, which is normal pattern for the UK, but not as much in prior years due to weakness in for example, travel and finance, two very economically sensitive verticals.

In 2008, Googles overall UK revenues in the first quarter were 16% better than Q4 2007.

Pichette added that Spain and Ireland has weakened over the quarter, while Germany remained a relative bright spot.

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