Revealing the results of a seven-year-long investigation, The European Commission has set a fine of £2.1 billion (or €2.42 billion) for Google for its foul play when it comes to product advertisement. Reviewing evidence that includes documentation from both Google and its competitors, large amount of real-world data, as well as experiments, surveys and analyses, it was established that Google had been pushing the rating of its comparison shopping service. Not only that, but it’s been lowering the rank of the competition, placing them far below their actual deserved position in the “internet market.”
The product in question is “Google Shopping,” Google’s comparison shopping service that allows users to compare products and prices and find the most suitable offers from online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Initially titled “Froogle,” the product had entered a market that was already “ruled” by a few other players, placing the Google’s own service in a tough position.
So in order to get the product more attention and, more importantly, more revenue, Google abused the advantage of being the dominant internet search engine in 31 countries of the European Economic Area. Giving its own product an unfair advantage and a prominent placement in the search result, Google placed it at the top of search queries which usually nets up to 35% of all clicks. For comparison, the first product on the second page of any search result usually ends up with just 1% of total clicks, and evidence shows that Google placed even its most prominent rivals to page four on average.
Naturally, this could only go one way: Google Shopping has increased its traffic up to 45-fold in some European countries, and it came at the expense of rivaling websites.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
Given the longevity of this act and the amount of money in question, The Commission’s issued fine of €2 424 495 000 breaks every record, even the one Intel had to pay in 2009 (€1.1 billion). Moreover, Google will be forced to give equal treatment to rivaling comparison shopping services or it will face another fine of 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company. With this case now in the limelight of world’s attention,
The Commission investigates two more cases of similar behavior by Google: one regarding the Android operating system and another in regard to AdSense.