Consumer Watchdog Says Google Shopping Costs Consumers, Complains To FTC

perfume-google-shopping-product-listing-ads Consumer Watchdog has lodged a new complaint about Google's "search monopoly" with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), this time saying Google Shopping results don't pass the sniff test. The group calls the way the search engine displays its Product Listing ads "deceptive and unfair", adding that Google Shopping's paid listings are price gouging consumers. In addition to competing shopping engines being shut out of top listings, consumers are "actually being harmed because the featured results from Google Shopping more often than not return higher prices than can be found elsewhere,” w [...]


Google To Get EU “Watchdog” As Part Of Antitrust Settlement

google-eu-featured The New York Times is reporting that as part of the anticipated antitrust settlement in Europe Google is likely to be subject to a "watchdog" overseer. This role is explained in a "96-page [job] description" according to the paper: Among the details of the job: The title is monitoring trustee. And although the salary remains unknown, the taker will be paid by Google. In addition, the chosen candidate cannot have any other links to Google during the five-year term or for three more years after the job comes to an end. Google could hold the person liable for disclosing confidential information. [...]


Dear Google Rivals: Do These New Proposals Solve Your Antitrust Concerns? Love, The EU

google-eu-featured Three years into its investigation of Google over antitrust issues relating to search, the European Union took another step closer toward a likely resolution, asking Google rivals and other third-parties to review a settlement proposal. Notably, the general public wasn't invited to participate. The news comes via several reports today. The European Union's Competition agency posted nothing on its website, though the move follows on what it promised to do earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters say that 125 companies have been asked to comment on the latest proposal, in [...]


New Concessions From Google Seek To Avoid EU Antitrust Penalties

google-eu-featured According to Reuters the European Commission (EC) says Google has submitted a new settlement proposal with "further concessions" in its bid to end the antitrust inquiry against the company. If the parties fail to reach agreement the EC has the ability to fine Google a percentage of its global revenues. That penalty could be as high as $5 billion potentially. No details of the new proposal were provided by Reuters or the EC. The updated proposal will likely be revealed in short order. The EC concluded its original antitrust investigation of Google with a report detailing "four areas of [...]


Google Adds Waze Traffic To Maps App, Search To Waze

Google Waze Traffic The first "synergies" from Google's Waze acquisition are being rolled out to both Google Maps and Waze users. Google announced this morning in a blog post that real-time Waze traffic updates will appear in the Google Maps app (for iOS, Android): Users of Google Maps for Mobile will now benefit from real time incident reports from Waze users. This means when Wazers report accidents, construction, road closures and more on Waze, the updates will also appear on the Google Maps app for Android and iOS in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerla [...]


EU Says More Google “Concessions” Needed Before Antitrust Settlement

google-eu-featured The vigorous lobbying efforts of Google critics FairSearch.org and Foundem's SearchNeutrality.org seem to be paying off. Earlier today EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told members of the European Parliament that additional "concessions" would probably be required of Google to settle the antitrust investigation against the company and avoid litigation and potential financial penalties. According to Reuters, Almunia said the following: After [all the settlement proposal feedback is received] we will analyze the responses we have received, we will ask Google, probably, I cannot an [...]


Google Wins Vertical Search Antitrust Case In Germany

google-legal-cash-featured In a German case that could have broader antitrust implications in Europe, Google defeated a petition for an injunction brought by a German online weather trade group, Verband Deutscher Wetterdienstleister. The case is interesting because it involves a private antitrust action against Google and directly addresses the "search bias" argument made by Google critics. The case and petition for injunction against Google were brought on behalf of third party publishers by the weather association. I obtained an English translation of the German court's opinion. The translation is a bit awkward [...]


Google’s New European “Antitrust” Search Results: Here’s What They’ll Look Like

EU Flag I've found documents associated with the Google-EU settlement proposal that offer mock-ups of how the new, regulated SERPs will look. It's very interesting and greatly clarifies the settlement terms and how they will be implemented practically. These mockups look quite different (and less "disruptive") than what I imagined. There are three basic scenarios: where Google sees direct monetization from the SERP, indirect monetization in the vertical or no monetization (e.g., News in Europe). In each case the presentation and the rules will be slightly different. The screens below are all mock- [...]


EU Goes Public With Google Antitrust Proposals, “Market Test” FAQs

google-eu-featured The EU released documents this morning that detail Google's antitrust settlement proposals and explain the Competition Commission's position on various aspects of the investigation. First here's what the EU says Google has proposed: Google offers for a period of 5 years to: (i) - label promoted links to its own specialised search services so that users can distinguish them from natural web search results, - clearly separate these promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features (such as a frame), and - display links to three rival specialised search services c [...]


Is Google’s Antitrust Settlement Offer To Europe Dead On Arrival?

google-eu-featured The European Union has "accepted" Google's formal antitrust settlement proposal -- subject to "market testing." As a practical matter, that means EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia is circulating it among Google's critics and competitors for reaction. However, there has already been plenty of (negative) reaction based on the information that came out last week in news reports. That leads to the question: is Google's settlement proposal dead on arrival? And if so, what will Almunia and the Europeans do? Is litigation inevitable? The issue that Google's competitors and critics ca [...]


Google’s EU Antitrust Settlement Includes Labeling, Mandatory Competitive Links And Third Party Enforcement

google-eu-featured The proposed terms of the Google antitrust settlement in Europe have started to come to light, first through a report in the Financial Times, and this weekend, in articles from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. As anticipated, the primary "remedy" Google is offering involves labeling its own results to distinguish them from third-party publishers. Yet, there are some new twists and nuances that have not been discussed or disclosed before. They involve third-party enforcement and presentation of competitive links as alternatives to Google's own content. Apparently, the settle [...]


Google (Finally) Gives EU A Formal Settlement Proposal As UK Mapping Rival Files Anti-Competitive Suit

google-maps-iphone-icon Google has formally submitted its antitrust settlement proposal to the EU. Wait, didn't that happen weeks ago? Apparently, it did not. While the parties have been talking for months (seems like years), Bloomberg reported today that Google had "formalized" its settlement proposal to avoid potential fines and other penalties. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is now going to "market test" Google's proposal. What that means as a practical matter is that he will circulate the proposal among Google's critics and rivals for feedback. No doubt, they will be dissatisfied because Googl [...]


EU Leans Toward “Labeling” To Resolve Antitrust Claims Against Google

google-eu-featured Those hoping for aggressive regulation or changes in the way Google conducts its search business in Europe will likely be disappointed. A new interview with EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia hints at settlement proposals and remedies now being considered in the Google antitrust case. And, they will probably look a lot like what came out of the FTC earlier this year. The interview, published in a New York Times article triggered by the filing of a new antitrust complaint over Android, offers some insights into the state of settlement negotiations between Europe and Google. The [...]


Microsoft “Research” Discovers The Obvious In Renewed Anti-Trust Attack On Google

microsoft-google-fight-featured Did you know that the higher a site is listed in search results, the more traffic that site is likely to receive? If you're a search marketer, or anyone with a dose of common sense, you do. But Microsoft had research conducted to yet again prove this point, in an attempt to influence the ongoing EU antitrust review against Google. Microsoft's Hired Gun Does Research In a Microsoft blog post today, Susan Athey, a Microsoft consultant and professor of economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, writes about how she worked with those from Microsoft's Bing search engine to c [...]


Google Adds Publisher Opt-Out Tool For Shopping, Flights, Hotels & Local Search

stop-signs-featured Don't want your content to be included in many of Google's vertical search services, such as Google Shopping or Google+ Local? Google's got a new tool for that, a result of its agreement earlier this year with the US Federal Trade Commission over anti-trust charges. Announced on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the new tool is located within Google Webmaster Central and allows publishers to keep their content out of: Google Shopping Google+ Local Google Flights Google Hotels Google Advisor (financial product search) Oddly, several of these services only allow you to be inc [...]


Open Letter To EU Competition Commissioner Exerts Pressure For Tougher “Vertical Search” Settlement With Google

google-eu-featured Late last week, a group of Google critics, rivals and complainants sent an "open letter" to EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia asking him to focus on the "vertical search" or "search neutrality" dimensions of the Google antitrust case. The letter says, essentially, that of the "four areas of concern" raised by the EU over Google's business practices, this is the only issue that really matters. The letter asserts that the EU must address "Google’s search manipulation practices" in the form of "the systematic promotion of Google’s own services, and the systematic demotion [...]


Google Flight Search Takes Off Around The Globe

google-flight-search-featured Google's flight search tool had been limited to a few markets in the US. As such, it was of limited value. But last week, the company expanded flight search internationally to include 500 airports outside the US. (See postscript below below for correction.) Flight search can also be used by people in other countries -- UK, France, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands -- to do research and initiate trip planning. In addition, Flight Search now comes in eight languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Galician and Dutch and features local currency. Perhaps the feature th [...]


Europeans Taking Sweet Time In Resolving Antitrust Case With Google

google-eu-featured Google's antitrust case in the US concluded in January, much to the dismay of companies that had been agitating for tough action by the FTC. It was seen as a near total victory for Google. Rivals quickly turned their attention to Europe in the hope that, unencumbered by some of the legal issues that inhibited US regulators, it would be willing to impose "meaningful" restraints on Google. There were some signals from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia that Europe was going to take a firm stand on the vertical search or "search bias" issue. Google's alleged "search bias" towar [...]


Google Updates AdWords API Terms To Comply With FTC Antitrust Settlement

google-legal-cash-featured As part of its antitrust settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in January, Google agreed to allow ad campaigns to be exported to third party ad networks using its API. Here's what Google said in a blog post at the time of the settlement earlier this year: Advertisers can already export their ad campaigns from Google AdWords. They will now be able to mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API. The following is the relevant language from the FTC statement about the export of AdWords campaigns at the time of the antitrust settlement: Goog [...]


Google Submits Formal European Antitrust Settlement Proposal

google-eu-featured Yesterday, right under the deadline, Google delivered its proposal to the European Commission (EC) in an effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company and head off a formal enforcement action. The proposal was required to concretely address four "areas of concern" identified by the EC. Briefly, those involve "search bias" and "diversion of traffic," improper use of third party content and reviews by Google, third party publisher exclusivity agreements and portability of ad campaigns to other search platforms. Google essentially addressed three of the four areas in its sett [...]


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