Ad Alert Ad Called Into Question

Expedia challenges advertising of competitor. Self-regulatory body weighs in.

Ad Alert Ad Called Into Question

Online travel sites make booking your trip home for the holidays easier than ever. But the price you see is the price you want to get and that wasn’t the case with ads appearing on two travel sites, according to an advertising self-regulatory body.

The National Advertising Division announced last week that it had recommended that Fareportal, the operator of travel sites and, stop running ads that could potentially mislead consumers.

The ads had appeared with search results and showed the destination selected by a user next to a specific price. Expedia, who brought the complaint to NAD,  offered the example of a consumer who searched for flights from Miami to Houston seeing the ad: “Houston $149 Airfares —”

Expedia argued that the ad was misleading because had no flights from Miami to Houston for $149. According to the NAD release:

Upon clicking the ad, the challenger said, the consumer did not find references to flights to Houston at $149 or references to flights from Miami to Houston. Rather, the cheapest fare advertised on CheapOair was from Kansas City to Houston, offered at $170.50. According to the challenger, there was not a single flight listed from Miami to Houston at the advertised price of $149.

NAD agreed with Expedia that a reasonable consumer who clicks on the ad should find a flight from Miami to Houston for the advertised price of $149. It  recommended that Fareportal discontinue the ads. Fareportal said it was “disappointed” with the decision, saying it is “unaware of any actual consumer concerns” associated with the advertising.

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