back to article Google's pay-to-play 'remedy' is warming Eurocrats' hearts

Regulators are warming to Google's preferred remedy to the European Commission's vertical search competition investigation, according to a briefing given to Bloomberg. Google wants to create panels that third-party sites can bid for, as a remedy to the vertical search judgement, which concluded that Google had abused its …

  1. Bill M

    Sounds over complicated and bureaucratic - I reckon the EU will love that.

  2. James 51

    bidding for their own ads, sounds like a good way to transfer profits around to avoid tax.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google pays Google to show ads?

      Yes, just a way to create more fictional expenses to lower taxable profits.

      And how could the bid and result placement be fair if there is no external oversee on the bidding process?

      Google would hold the same control as before, and profit twice from it.

  3. RyokuMas

    Meet the new evil, same as the old evil...

    So basically, Google shopping - being a "separate entity" - can bid on the slots for Google search page.

    ... except that Alphabet, parent to the both of these, is one of the top five most profitable companies in the world, with several billion at its disposal to invest in any of its child companies.

    Yeah, any competitor to Google shopping is really going to be able to outbid that. And - as previously pointed out - potentially another way to avoid tax.

    Google's capacity for evil seems to be rivalled only by the EU admin's capacity to be really stupid.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks to me like Google is trying to transform this into an accounting problem. Figuring out what is fair or not now involves complicated calculations on whether Google-the-price-comparison-engine is truly and independently profitable. And then accountants are supposed to decide of that.

    What I find a more interesting question is, will other price comparison sites actually participate, and will their offers really show up regularly? If they do, then it means that the solution is actually allowing others to compete somewhat. If they don't, or if they stop participating after two months, that means that the remedies are not sufficient, and the EU will ask for more.

  5. John Lilburne

    What is the point of price comparison sites?

    The sellers tend to compete amongst themselves such that the prices coalesce. Can't recall there being much of a price difference between resellers from any thing I've bought recently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is the point of price comparison sites?

      true, but is it competition that keeps the price high?

      a recent exhaustive search by me for the sony dsc-rx100 (original) camera found sony's RRP = still £499,

      but the actual RRP at argos/amzn/JohnLewis etc is currently coalesced (fixed?) at £349±£1

      the only (real) UK competition currently comes from a Czech media-world biz, who undercut by just £20, and an Italian eglobal place that suggested £275 - neither of which I yet dared trust.

      anyway, now that CETA (comprehensive canada europe economic trade agreement) has been ratified/signed by those blüdy eurocrats, we now have all the fun of price checking to, seemingly tax & duty-free, if you can avoid the odd gouging $90 postal charges. . .?

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    How about..

    FoundEm & all the other price comparison sites develop their own search engine and make it better than Google (given that Google search is a lot worse than it used to be, it's a far easier target than a few years ago).

    If I got to Google I expect Google related content to feature heavily (e.g. search for bricks & mortar shop & Google maps showing me location map)

    Similarly on Bing I expect MS content (so Bing maps for locations)

    There is plenty of proper bad for customer Google monopoly stuff for EU to get worked up about - e.g. not being able to remove vendor / carrier crud from android phone without rooting (& rooting then means some apps refuse to run, so if you need those apps stuck with crud), Google not forcing out security patches for android etc. (and security patches only being produced for a relatively short time for those who do not treat phones as disposable oft replaced kit)

    Why pick on something pointless - maybe because only muppets care about price comparison sites and muppets are making these sort of decisions

    1. RyokuMas

      Re: How about..

      "FoundEm & all the other price comparison sites develop their own search engine and make it better than Google"

      That's like saying "How about Google develop their own desktop OS and make it better than Windows".

      Whether or not Windows is better than Chrome OS is a matter of personal belief and irrelevant - Windows is deeply entrenched in enterprise by virtue of a massive land-grab early on, and to replace it will require changing the minds of those who are used to Windows (this probably explains Google's decision to target the education market - the "hook 'em while they're young" strategy).

      Similarly, Google has made the same sort of landgrab in web search - having the best search engine at the time was vital, but ultimately by marketing themselves as the good guys ("Don't be evil") at a time when the dominant Microsoft were being torn a new one over bundling IE, they won the hearts and minds of the devs. Microsoft then missed the boat with the web as a whole, and now we have reached the point where we no longer "search the web" for something - we "google" it.

      By controlling search, Google effectively control discoverability and marketing of pretty much anything on the web - their Chrome browser being a prime example. Do you think for one moment that Google will allow a competing service to make any kind of headway in winning over it audience?

      Short of some kind of large-scale legal injunction, on a similar level as this one for price comparison, Google will maintain their stranglehold on web search, just as Microsoft continues to have dominance over the desktop OS market. And even then, the chances are if offered a choice of search engine in the same way Microsoft were forced to offer a choice of browser, most people would choose Google as it is what they are used to - just as they did with Internet Explorer post-browser-wars, until Google started splashing "upgrade your browser" links to Chrome all over their search pages.

    2. User McUser

      Re: How about..

      FoundEm & all the other price comparison sites develop their own search engine and make it better than Google

      Because the normals do not use the Web in that way. They don't go to an appropriate site or vendor and then search for what they want. They just Google that shit and click on the first thing in the list.

      I know people that Google the literal string "" instead of typing that into their browser's URL bar. For the majority of users, Google *is* the Internet; they know of no other context in which the Web can exist except as search results.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "For the majority of users, Google *is* the Internet; "

        Got it in one.

        For a lot of people if it cannot be found by Google it simply does not exist.

        BTW Price comparison websites are not for companies you know (but aren't particularly cheap). They are for finding those you don't know.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How about..

        If only Foundem had bothered adding value that users agreed was added value. They instead called lawyers and watched their chance vanish. Other comparison sites actually worked on their product and succeeded, when I want to check PC component prices, PriceSpy does a much better job than Google and faces strong competition from other specialised similar services.

        If I want to find or compare comparison sites I'll ask a search engine for that. If I want to compare products I don't expect the site I ask to show me anything but the product, not rival sites.

  7. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Who really "uses" Google anyway?

    Sure, I'll type in a few search terms but Google's search result are generally terrible and have been so for several years. You can use them to point towards other areas to look ... if I do find something then I'll copy and past the link from another browser to try and avoid encouraging Google.

    Most of my Google searches are done via a browser that deletes all cookies when I exit - I know they can still track me but I'm not going to make it easy for them.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Google question, why did they abandon search-within-search?

    That allowed me to get a broad shot, then refine down, throwing out the crud.

    Now it seems Google think their search so good a single level is all you need.

    This is bu***hit.

    And they still can't tell the difference between "plasmid" (molecular biology) and "plasmid" (a part of a plasma)

    But I can.

  9. hellwig

    Ignorant ignorant ignorant

    formalise the transformation of free, relevance-based traffic into paid, pay-for-placement traffic for all services but Google's own," the company's founders wrote.

    Google is NOT a free service. What "Free traffic" is this person referring to? Google pays for that "free traffic" with Ads. The Ads are certainly not free, if you want priority displaying, you have to pay for it. The commission seems to be upset that Google doesn't pay for it's own ads, which would be pointless anyway.

    Google is not the internet. If the EU doesn't like how Google runs its own services, the EU should create it's own competing search engine. Hell, if it worked, I might actually use that. We need alternatives TO Google (not meaningless fines to try to make Google work the way we want it) or soon enough, Google will be the internet. Google Accelerated Pages. Google "acceptable format" ads (and blocking of non-conformant ads in Chrome) is leading us down a dangerous path.

    Use that multi-billion dollar fine to fund a startup to compete.

  10. TDog


    If the actions by the EU are justifiable then Google has done very significant damage (Google sized damage?) to a myriad of companies who no longer exist or have been marginalised by the prior acts of Google.

    So coming up with a 'solution' once you've already shot the competitors seems somewhat iniquitous and rather unreasonable. At the very least, future promises and speculative changes should not be allowed to mitigate past actions - it seems idealistic to hypothesize that significant quantities of these fines will go to the a priori losers but the fines should still be enforced.

    If the actions by the EU are justified.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Restitution payments already complete

      When a previous EU antitrust case was getting close to a conclusion, the defendant's lawyers started looking for a new way to justify their pay checks. Their boss wanted to attack a competitor, but couldn't do so directly for anti-trust reasons. The plan was to offer funding and legal expertise in EU anti-trust law to small businesses. Some companies changed their business model from internet search to lobbying/litigation for hire. The lobbying has been so successful that it created self sustaining ill-will that it no long needs funding.

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