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EU Fines Google $1.7 bn for Unfair Online Ad Rules

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

The European Union’s antitrust regulators on Wednesday fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites, the European Commission (EC) said in a statement.

“Today the Commission has fined Google 1.49 billion euros for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts,” EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

It is the third EU fine for Google in just two years.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager said.

The Commission said the fine which is equivalent to 1.29 per cent of Google’s turnover in 2018 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement.

“The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition,” Vestager said.

Websites such as newspaper websites, blogs or travel sites aggregators often have a search function embedded.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

When a user searches using this search function, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

Through AdSense for Search, Google provides these search adverts to owners of “publisher” websites.

Google is an intermediary, like an advertising broker, between advertisers and website owners that want to profit from the space around their search results pages.

Therefore, AdSense for Search works as an online search advertising intermediation platform.

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Google was by far the strongest player in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA), with a market share above 70 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

Google’s provision of online search advertising intermediation services to the most commercially important publishers took place via agreements that were individually negotiated.

The Commission reviewed hundreds of such agreements in the course of its investigation and found that starting in 2006, Google included exclusivity clauses in its contracts.

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, the European Commission said. (IANS)

Next Story

Google Redesigning the News Tab of its Desktop Search

According to the report, even though the change itself is relatively minor, it is part of a larger effort by Google to improve its news products

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

Laying more emphasis on headlines and publisher names, Google is redesigning the News tab of its desktop search.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we’re rolling out a redesigned News tab in Search on desktop. The refreshed design makes publisher names more prominent and organises articles more clearly to help you find the news you need,” Google News Initiative announced on Twitter on Friday.

The updated redesign would bring the News tab closer to the dedicated Google News site and display stories in a card format rather than a list, making headlines and publishers appear clearer.

The company is grouping news stories on same topic together to let users looking for broader coverage on a subject distinguish different strands of the case, The Verge reported.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

The updated News tab would be rolling out to users around the world in the coming weeks.

According to the report, even though the change itself is relatively minor, it is part of a larger effort by Google to improve its news products.

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To make its news reliable, Gooogle has formed partnerships with news organisations, created new mechanisms to let users subscribe to publishers, set up programmes to fight fake news and relaunched its own dedicated News app with new AI features. (IANS)