Google proposes remedy in response to European Union antitrust crackdown


The tech giant was forced to make the change after the European commission ruled in June that it had been artificially and illegally promoting its own price comparison service in searches, denying consumers real choice and rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field. Each spot on this panel will be auctioned which will provide a chance to rival site to display their links. The service will remain part of Google itself, but will "operate separately and use its own revenues to bid for ads".

The standalone Google Shopping unit will have to bid with other shopping sites for ad placement on top of Google's product search results page, Bloomberg News reported September 26 citing unnamed sources.

"Unless Google is volunteering to break up its general-and specialised-search businesses, the inclusion of Google's comparison shopping competitors into a new or existing pay-for-placement auction would simply create an additional anti-competitive barrier", it said.

Last week, it was reported that Google would only offer to display rival sites via an auction, but did not at the time have the idea of completely separating its shopping service and as such that proposal would likely have fallen short of European Union demands.

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A multi-year EU antitrust investigation into Google's practices around search comparison ended this June with the European Commission handing the company a €2.42 billion (~$2.73BN) fine for antitrust violations pertaining to its treatment of comparison shopping services.

"We're implementing a remedy to comply with the European Commission's recent decision", Al Verney, a spokesperson for Google said in a statement. The company continues to challenge the findings, even though it is making these changes.

He said it's hard to tell exactly how the changes will affect search advertising revenue for Google, but there should be an upside. Google filed an appeal against the fine earlier this month. Here Google is now letting anyone bid for the ads it displays at the top of product related search results - rather than, as was the case before, displaying links to products that merchants had paid it to display at the top of search results. The reason is that they have been auctioned off, with Google as just one among the bidders. Google presented its plans to the commission at the end of August but did not make them public until Wednesday.