EU antitrust executive: Google’s auction-based shopping search results scheme doesn’t work

Earlier this year, Margaret Vestager was appointed vice-chairman of the European Commission’s digital policy, foreign media reported, and it was clear that the tech giant would be a target for her. Two years ago, she fined Alphabet’s Google $2.7 billion for abusing its dominance of the search industry.


Specifically, Google was punished for placing its shopping comparison service on or near the top of the first page of search results. Not only that, but the EU also found that in some cases, because Google’s competitors were demoted so far that they could barely get to the first page, the ranking criterion did not seem to affect Google’s own ranking.

Since then, Google Shopping has operated independently of Google as a subsidiary of Alphabet, and its search results have been labeled “by Google.” The search giant also said it would put competitive bid search results at the top of the list. However, this does not seem to have had the desired effect.

At a Web Summit this week, Mr. Vistagg said: “We may see a competitor’s presentation in the shopping box. We may see an increase in merchant clicks. But in terms of shopping comparisons, we still don’t see much traffic with our strong competitors. “

Google Shopping’s rivals have previously said they were concerned that the auction would force comparison engines to “give up most of their profits”. They argue that Google’s commitment to running Google Shopping alone is pointless internal accounting practices, which simply change the money they pay from one google pocket to another.

Interestingly, Google is planning a similar, auction-based solution in an antitrust case against the default search engine on Android. By next year, alternative search service providers will have to fight to include search services in Google Search, and the auction could be similarly controversial.

Google isn’t the only company to be found to prioritize its own products in search results. Earlier this year, a report found that Apple’s own apps and services were prominent in search results for the most frequently searched keywords, so Apple had to adjust its app store search algorithm.

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