Tuesday 17 October 2017

Google decision - what it means for consumers

Google's Dublin offices
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Following on from the European Commission’s decision to fine Google €2.42bn for abusing its dominant market position by giving what it said was illegal advantage in search results, consumers can expect to some notice changes to their online shopping experience.

Currently when a person is shopping online Google will display an image of the relevant product and the price of the item. It will also include the name of the shop where the product can be found, if this information is available (see image one).

Image one
Image one

If Google cease to do this, as per the Commission’s decision, then the adds will disappear when a person searches for a product.

Instead a consumer’s search will look something like image two.

Image two
Image two

The images which Google are promoting are flagged as sponsored content on Google, however what Google was doing, the EU Commission found, was promoting its own price comparison service of ads which it gets paid for.

Meanwhile the search engine was relegating price comparisons provided by smaller companies, according to the Commission.

“Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google has argued that consumers want to find products which they are looking for online quickly and easier, and as advertisers want to promote these products, Google is simply “connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

“Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Walker said.

The fine is the biggest ever handed down by European competition authorities for so-called ant-trust or market abuse.

Additional reporting by Independent News Service

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