back to article Google watchers react furiously to ad flinger’s competition case defence

“The data mentioned in Google’s blog is frankly suspicious," or so said Thomas Vinje, legal counsel for FairSearch Europe – a group of organisations lobbying against the ad flinger's online search dominance – in response to Google’s defence of its EU anti-trust case yesterday. FairSearch represents the complainants in the case …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    because everyone wanted to go to

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      I tried that

      It is crap

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I tried that

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: I tried that

          I found Foundem's presentation mildly interesting, especially their omitting any mention or inclusion of the Foundem traffic, suggesting it is too low to show on the chart or so high that it ruins their argument. Having looked at the site, I incline to the first explanation.

          Comparison shopping sites, in my opinion, are generally not very useful except in cases in which the specific product, make, and model are known, along with a range of potential suppliers and their reliability, and the only relevant consideration is price. Even then, an "organic" direct search is likely to do as well with lower effort, as a price comparison site. I routinely ignore the likes of Nextag even when it shows up in the results.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah foundem appear to be one of the lowest quality of those type of sites. They really have got a rubbishy website.

      They seem to have plenty of money to update their campaign (maybe money from one of their friends? ;-} )

      Byt their website and business model is exactly why Google was right to adjust their algorithms to stop the parasite sites that were ruining search engines for everyone.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Foundem launched early enough to get decent press coverage (which no launch today would), then failed to turned that into any happy, repeat customers. Today they're riding Microsofts coattails and again getting press coverage, coverage that will stop most even considering them.

        The last thing Foundem needs is more exposure, the more the public hear their name, the worse things get. Yet they still cling to the belief that buying rank in search results (this time by paying for lawyers) will magically change their fortunes.

        Wonder if they've ever considered just running a better business?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Paul Shirley and other Googleoids

          Paul Shirley - the reliable Voice of Google.

          Foundem won awards when it launched, it did specialised search better than Google. Its reward for running a better business was to be kneecapped by Google.

          The message is clear: don't compete where Google does business.

    3. DavCrav

      "because everyone wanted to go to"

      Sorry, but Google Shopping is shit. Completely shit. The only way it could get to the top of the rankings is if someone manipulated it. Google cannot really expect us to believe that Google Shopping is at the top of its rankings naturally. So they are favouring their own other parts of the business, and therefore abusing their domination of search.

      Job done.

  2. graeme leggett

    IF found to be in the wrong, google/ would probably be happy with a fine and vague promises to be better citizens of the globe in future.

    What they wouldn't -even in absence of a fine - like is agreeing to some clearly defined mechanisms for de-favouring their own services, and the burden having to keep records showing that internal meetings/emails/contracts/projects were compliant with the new 'rules'.

  3. jonnycando

    What's all the hubbub?

    I use Google all the time. I am not aware they that they sell much more than nexus gadgets. Sure if you search for a certain product google will present you with paid sponsors first, and perhaps those sellers that accept google wallet. Fact is, its not hard to find your favorite seller in any given set of search results

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Fact is, its not hard to find your favorite seller in any given set of search results

      The discussion is about searching when you don't know who you want to give your business to. If you've decided already why would you be searching?

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: Fact is, its not hard to find your favorite seller in any given set of search results

        I've never once asked google to tell me who can tell me who sells anything.

        I've asked google who sells things and they've answered.

        If I requested that google give me search sites and they only listed their own then I'd be miffed. If I ask them who sells something and they only listed the names of other people who could tell me I'd also be miffed.

  4. Omniaural

    Simple solution

    Google just needs to make the shopping feed a matter of choice within it's search results, as search engines are within browsers, and then googlers can decide which feed they want to see.

    The default would obviously be google but a simple drop down for other providers would mean they were still offering choice.

    As things stand they ARE abusing their position no matter how successful it is.

    1. DavCrav

      Re: Simple solution

      "The default would obviously be google but a simple drop down for other providers would mean they were still offering choice."

      Still abuse of dominant position. See Microsoft and browser choice screens.

  5. Rikkeh

    Everything or nothing

    What's very interesting about this case is that Google tried to settle the case against itself with behavioural commitments, but this was derailed, not by the Commission per se (which was minded to accept them) but by the strength of feeling of the complainants and certain anti-Google politicians.

    As a competition lawyer, I'm fairly unconvinced by the theory of harm- why should a dominant undertaking be forced to grant access on a non-discriminatory basis to its competitors when not doing so does cannot be said to foreclose competitors from the market? By opposing the deal, the complainants have taken one hell of a gamble.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Everything or nothing

      I think they've committed suicide. The most likely outcome now, presaged by the creation of Alphabet, is Google splitting search from the problem services completely destroying leverage for Fairsearch & co.

      More worrying for them is my most recent experience of their shopping service. I actually tried Googles travel insurance comparison partly because this whole shitstorm had kicked off again. It was a revelation, an absolutely minimal search, 100% relevant results, enough detail to narrow the choice upfront... and most astonishing, the prices quoted there matched the ones on each sellers site I tried! Easily deserving of a high rank in organic search in the 'level playing field' Fairsearch claim to want.

      Comparison sites are so universally bad even Google can put together something better. The complaining competition should be very frightened and they'll go to their bankruptcy without ever considering building a better product. Still, it will be a "fair" bankruptcy for most of them ;)

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Everything or nothing

        "Comparison sites are so universally bad even Google can put together something better."

        But the cost of doing it, on top of what Google is already doing, must be tiny. Trying to do it from scratch must be far harder.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Everything or nothing

        Gadget Show 2008:

        "When searching for online bargains I reckon your first port of call should be price comparison websites...We took nine of the Gadget Shows favourite Gadgets and searched for the best price we could get for each and every one of them on what we reckon are the twelve best price comparison sites in the UK...So, who does the Gadget Show recommend? The top dog in our survey was in fact Foundem. This site found the lowest price in six out of nine cases, and found the second best price in the other three cases. But I also like their Price History graphs...which chart the cost of your item over time."

        Google isn't even a price comparison site. It never has been. You pay to play.

        Paul Shirley, trolling for Google as always.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well of course

    Obviously Google does no want an open hearing - why allow your competitors to have a voice ? They just might have an argument that sticks.

    Google is not about openness, and nothing about the inner workings of Google is open in any way. Google is all about backroom deals, lobbying and whispering softly in the right ears. With a brown envelope if need be.

    Anything to avoid proper regulation and oversight. It's such a hassle to find ways around that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well of course

      Because demanding an open hearing isn't about fully presenting arguments and counter-arguments in a judicial context - in an open hearing most of them would hardly have time to be touched on, if discussed at all. It's about grandstanding, which is these shouty groups have been doing all along in the hope of swaying politicians.

  7. jnffarrell1

    Adding billable hours. That's the only thing Vinje is doing furiously.

    Expect to hear a Yelp from his clients when they get the bill.

  8. Durant Imboden

    The headline is deceptive. FairSearch (sic) and its ilk aren't "Google Watchers," they're "Google's competitors."

    1. gerryg

      no, they're not

      If they were, they'd be out there competing

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The vast majority of search engines show ads based on search results, users expect adverts as search engines generally have to make money at some point.

    Just tried a search (from UK) for same product on Google / bing (usb stick related)

    Obvious on google results when something is sponsored / advert. - no attempt to fool you.

    Similar if I choose bing search engine (albeit more ads).

    The (non advert) results on 1st page from both quite similar - listed in order

    Google: currys, amazon, argos, ebuyer, mymemory, maplin, wikipedia, 7dayshop, tesco

    Bing: pc world, argos, ebay, amazon (twice - appears later in results too - in addition also has a sponsored ad), tesco, maplin, wikipedia, mymemory, ebuyer

    So Bing gave 1 more result (but Amazon twice), majority of "hits" similar, noteable that google did not give ebay - however ebay was there as an advert. Should be noticed ads on both quite similar.

    With either of these "major" search engines I would have to refine search / go through several pages of results to get to more obscure retailers - which is what I expect from a search engine: I expect big companies / specialists

    Essentially I get same user experience with a major Google competitor as with Google, so really do not see the point of the complaints - presumably similar algorithms used by both search engines.

  10. Queasy Rider

    I sidestep paid ads

    Those ads that you could barely tell were ads always bothered me when they appeared at the top of search results, but not just because of their deceptive appearance. Knowing how expensive they were to place there, and believing they were also charged again if you clicked on them, I commenced scrolling down till I found the company's unadulterated search result and clicked there. I don't know if I'm saving the company any money but I don't know how else to get around the Google tax, and maybe have the savings trickle down to the customer(not consumer, I really hate that term, like pre-owned car vs used car.)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the simple answer is for FairSearch Europe to produce their own search engine to show everyone how it is done then they can play to their hearts content. The problem is that no one would use it if foundem is the best example they can come up with.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Unfortunately for those who might undertake something like that, it would be difficult for a competing search engine to gain traction against Yahoo or Bing, let alone Google, unless it produced very noticeably "better" results than each of them. That is very unlikely unless the likes of Fairsearch succeed in their rent seeking and government regulation damages Google's significantly. They may need to approach it with some care, lest the rules hamper their benefactors as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fairsearch already have their own search engine, you can find it at

  12. Sirius Lee

    What a bullshit response from the Turkeys

    "under European law, consumers and competitors have a right to expect unpaid and unbiased real search results"

    What!? Where is the 'search on-line" directive? FarceSearch represents a bunch of organisations that have failed to compete at all for two decades. Now they want to whine - at my expense. I'm a European and it would be great if there were go to sites that provide a credible alternative to Google. But there isn't. Dreadful technology decisions, lack of imagination, poor marketing, eternal EU political interference means there is no credible alternative. So instead of competing for my attention and money they want to lobby politicians to spend my tax money to prosecute a case against an organization that provides what I want.

    No. F*** off.

    1. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: What a bullshit response from the Turkeys

      Writes a man who doesn't know what the case is about.

      People like you basically ensure no European tech company will ever be able to compete with Google.

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