Europe’s competition chief has accused Google of search ‘abuse’, paving the way for regulatory action on the search giant.
Any European Commission intervention could hurt Google’s insurance aggregator plans.The search giant paid £37.7m for BeatThatQuote in March 2011, and has since launched a Google-branded aggregator, Google Compare. The aggregator has already shot up the advertiser visibility rankings, according digital research specialist Greenlight.
“We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] are diverting traffic,” Joaquín Almunia told the Financial Times. “It is monetising this kind of business, the strong position it has in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position.”
The Commission said last May it had four main concerns:
Google distorts ‘natural’ search
Google copies content such as user reviews from competing services and uses if for its own offering without permission
The search giant forces other websites for which it sells and delivers search adverts to work with it exclusively
Advertising campaigns booked via Google are easily transferred to other platforms for search advertising.
Google said: “We continue to work co-operatively with the European Commission.”
The Commission could force its own changes on Google, or if it moves to the courts, Google could end up paying a fine, potentially up to 10% of worldwide revenues, which would be €2.9bn (£2.3bn) in 2011.
The only good news for Google is that last week it avoided action from US regulators, which decided not to act over similar concerns.
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