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Influence Hammers Anti-Google Message

If you keep track of Hill publications and websites, you've probably noticed a flurry of ads from this month casting Google as a big, bad player in the online marketplace.

The coalition of 17 Internet and tech companies, which includes Microsoft, Expedia and Hotwire, has been pushing an ad campaign that asks "Can you trust Google?" Specifically, wants to take Google to task for what it calls its unfair practices of directing traffic toward its own products rather than competitors.

Google, for its part, maintains that it does allow competition, and if users don't like it, they can easily switch search engines. spokesman Ben Hammer describes the coalition as "a collection of companies and businesses that have been concerned that Google is engaged with specific practices that hurt competition in the market, lower consumer choice and make it harder for entrepreneurs and innovators to put their products in front of consumers and let them pick the winners."'s latest ads have appeared online and in print publications. Hammer declined to provide details on the campaign, including cost or duration.

But the Federal Trade Commission is wrapping up its investigation into Google for anti-competitive practices, with a decision expected by year's end. And last week, FTC Chairman Jon Lebowitz spoke at two major anti-trust conferences. has paid $90,000 to Glover Park Group so far this year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

And although companies will fight hard against each other on one issue, they're fine to coalesce around another. For instance, members TripAdvisor and Expedia are also a part of newly launched The Internet Association. And guess which behemoth is also a part of that trade group? Google. Frenemies much?

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