EU Antitrust Chief Says Google Settlement Essentially Done

google-eu-featured Amid criticism from politicians and Google's critics, EU antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia has essentially said that the current version of Google's antitrust settlement proposal is a done deal. While he didn't rule out changes definitively he seems to think complainants' criticisms have been addressed. The current proposal requires Google to give up considerable screen real estate and branding to vertical rivals. Google's opponents want another "market test" (time for criticism and study of the proposal's potential impact). They also don't want to pay Google for placement in contex [...]


Tweet Showing How Google Itself Is A “Scraper Site” Goes Massively Viral

gone-viral-600 Perhaps it's SEO's "Oreo moment," a tweet relating to search engine optimization that's gained nearly as much attention as Oreo's famous Super Bowl blackout tweet. But the subject was a perfect storm of goodness -- a real-life example of Google doing the type of thing in search it seems to be telling others not to do. Yesterday, the head of Google's web spam team Matt Cutts announced a new Google Scraper Report for publishers to use if they see a site that has copied or "scraped" its content and which outranks the publisher in Google searches. That quickly brought up a number of people j [...]


Will 11th Hour Objections Derail The Google-EU Antitrust Settlement?

Google Europe When the European Commission recently announced yet another antitrust settlement with Google the matter appeared to be coming to an end. This was the third proposed settlement from Google but indications from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia suggested that it was essentially final and only formalities remained to approve it. Unlike the two previous settlement proposals, this one is reportedly not going to be subjected to a "market test" (formal review by rivals and critics) -- although the European Commission will be accepting comments, apparently. Google's critics immediate [...]


It’s Done: Google Settles Search Antitrust Case In Europe

Google EU Roughly a year after Google settled an antitrust investigation with the US Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg is reporting that Google and the European Commission have reached a final settlement that would end the regulator's antitrust search investigation against the company. According to the report, "Google will escape fines or any finding by regulators that it may have discriminated against competing search sites." Google similarly escaped any significant fines or penalties in the US investigation. The heart of the controversy as it has evolved -- and the core of the settlement -- is [...]


Report: Google Close (Again) To EU Antitrust Settlement

Google EU The third time may be the charm. According to Reuters Google is (once again) "close to settling a three-year antitrust probe by European regulators after it offered 'much better' concessions" to the European Commission (EC). However Google has been here before. Two previous antitrust settlements were strenuously opposed and thus defeated by Google critics and competitors. As part of that lobbying campaign several sponsored studies were issued, which uniformly found the core of Google's settlement proposals -- prominently showing links to rivals' results -- would have little or no impact on [...]


Israel Wants To Tax Google To Support Local Content Publishers

Google Israel A new bill making its way to Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) would assess a tax of 7 percent on search engine ad revenues to subsidize local content publishers. The story was reported in the Financial Times. While it's not explicit or exclusive to any individual company, the bill has been nicknamed the “Google Law." This parallels legislative efforts in multiple countries where Google is blamed for eroding or undermining various domestic industries, typically journalism and newspaper publishing. So far, however, Google and its rivals have managed to escape the imposition of such levie [...]


German Courts Follow French Ruling & Order Google To Block Max Mosley Images In Search Results

Google Europe Google has lost another case in the Max Mosley lawsuit, this time in Germany. According to a Reuter's report, a German court has ruled Google is responsible for distributing scandalous pictures of the former Formula One president, and is ordering the search engine to block links to the images from appearing in search results. The lawsuit stems from a 2008 case Mosley won against the British tabloid News of the World for publishing photos of Mosley engaged in a sex party with prostitutes. Last year, Mosley filed a lawsuit against Google in France and Germany to keep the images from appearing [...]


EU Wants More Search Concessions, Google Defies French Authority

Google Europe Round and round she goes. The European Commission is seeking a final round of "concessions" from Google in an 11th hour effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia made public statements asserting that Google needs to deliver additional, revised proposals within weeks to avoid a formal antitrust proceeding. What we have now is a kind of high stakes game of chicken. For well over a year there has been a very public back and forth between Google, the European Commission and Google's rivals, who object to the various proposals [...]


EU: Google Antitrust Concessions “Unacceptable” As Second Study Condemns “Rival Links”

google-eu-featured European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced Friday in a Spanish radio interview that Google's second round of concessions in its current antitrust settlement proposal were "unacceptable." The main obstacle to settlement is still Google's treatment of competitors and its "own content" in "vertical search" results. Almunia was directly involved in negotiating the original settlement proposal with Google, which offered to put links to competitors' sites in a privileged position in search results. He seemed initially (and perhaps naively) surprised when it was almost imme [...]


Canada’s Competition Bureau Escalates Google Antitrust Investigation

Google legal Canada’s Competition Bureau (CCB) has indicated that it will proceed with a formal antitrust investigation against Google. The CCB had been engaged in a preliminary inquiry. A new CCB court filing requests a range of documents that will potentially show, according to the CCB, Google's alleged abuse of market power and anti-competitive behavior in Canada. The claims in the investigation are similar to those raised by the now concluded FTC investigation and the current European Commission investigation. The Financial Post in Canada first reported the action by the CCB. The filing assert [...]


Sponsored Study Argues Google’s “Rival Links” Don’t Drive Enough CTRs To Rivals

Google EU flag Google's original antitrust settlement proposal, negotiated with the European Commission, was attacked by Google competitors and critics as being a token concession to competition. Anti-Google lobbying group FairSearch.org sponsored a consumer study that argued Google's presentation of three “rival links” to competitors in search results did little to drive traffic to competitors' websites. In September Google presented a second settlement proposal that made new or additional concessions. The second proposal was immediately attacked as well. Now a second FairSearch-sponsored research [...]


After Two Years Of Broken Promises, Does Google Need To Explain More To Maintain Trust In Search?

google-g-logo-2012 For two years running, Google's broken major promises about search. It began doing paid inclusion in 2012, which it once called "evil." This year, it's experimenting with banner ads it said would never be allowed. Both represent major philosophical shifts for the company about search, but shifts it has largely avoided explaining. Does that erode user trust? That's the focus of my column at Marketing Land this week, Google’s Broken Promises & Who’s Running The Search Engine? It looks at the history behind both promises plus how search has a "fuzzy management" structure at Google, [...]


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. [...]


Google, Android Makers Sued By Apple “Rockstar” Consortium Over Search, AdWords

Google legal Roughly two years ago Google and a consortium of companies competitively bid for the vast patent portfolio of bankrupt Canadian Company Nortel Networks. Google initiated the bidding with $900 million but ultimately was outbid by the Rockstar consortium, consisting of Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony. Google's final bid was $4.4 billion. Rockstar won the patents for $4.5 billion. Now Google has been sued by Rockstar and two subsidiaries over several of the patents in the former Nortel portfolio: US Patents 6,098,065; 7,236,969; 7,469,245; 7,672,970; 7,895,178; 7,895,183; a [...]


New Google Antitrust Offer A “Significant Improvement” Says EU

Google Europe After Google's competitors loudly complained about the company's antitrust settlement proposal, which displayed three "rival links" to alternative' search results, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said it would take new "concessions" for Google to successfully settle its antitrust case with Europe. Google has now reportedly made those concessions. Almunia characterized Google's updated settlement offer, submitted last month, as a "significant improvement." According to a Reuters report, "Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made i [...]


When It Comes To Google, Microsoft’s Ballmer Is Still Fighting Old Battles With Old Tactics

microsoft-google-fight-featured I've watched Microsoft fight Google in search for a very long time. Bing has come a long way, and I've been pleased to see a strong competitor emerge. But Microsoft hasn't actually hurt Google's share. It's only robbed from its partner, Yahoo. So how's Microsoft going to beat Google? Comments from departing CEO Steve Ballmer suggest there are no new tactics in the playbook. Ballmer spoke yesterday at Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting 2013, saying that, among other things that Google was a monopoly. That might sound scary if even Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt hasn't admitted tha [...]


Could You Walk In Google’s Shoes? Making Tough Calls With Search Listings

It's pretty easy to sit back and slam Google for how you think it should make decisions when it comes to search listings. It's much harder to actually make those decisions, when you have a deeper understanding of all the implications involved. To experience this better, here's a chance to put yourself in Google's shoes and make some of the tough decisions. Below is a video from a special session we did at our SMX West search marketing conference earlier this year. Patrick Thomas, Google's search policy specialist and Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam fighting team, suggested a v [...]


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’s Plan To Withhold Search Data & Create New Advertisers

Not Provided How do you convince a bunch of publishers to buy ads on your service? If you're Google, how about withholding data from those publishers about how people are finding their sites, as a way to drive them into your ad system? I don't think Google planned for this to happen. But that's the end result, in what could be called the "Not Provided" scheme. "Dark Google" Nearly Two Years Old In October 2011 -- nearly two years ago now -- "Dark Google" was born. Google began holding back information it previously gave to publishers for free, "referrer data" that let publishers understand the exact term [...]


Google Says European Law Does Not Support Mosley Lawsuit To Censor Search Results

Google Europe Yesterday, Google posted a plea on their Google Europe blog asking European courts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Formula One president Max Mosley. The lawsuit requests that Google build a filter to identify and block what Mosley claims is unlawful content. A report on Bloomberg.com claims Mosley's lawyers filed a suit in a French Court, asking Google to create filters that could identify and remove content referencing "Nazi-themed" sex parties in association with Mosley.  A lawsuit has also been filed in Hamburg, Germany. In response to the lawsuit, Google's associate general cou [...]


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