The Commission has opened an investigation into alleged abuse of dominance by Google following complaints by search service providers about less favourable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid/“algorithmic” and sponsored search results, respectively. The complaint also includes a related allegation that Google afforded preferential placement to its own services.
The Commission is set to look into allegations that Google lowered the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services (e.g. price comparisons websites) and gave a higher ranking to the results of its own price comparison sites in order to shut out the competing services. The Commission will also investigate the alleged lowering of the 'Quality Score' of competing search services’ sponsored links. The ‘Quality Score’ influences the likelihood of an advert being displayed by Google and its ranking (if two advertisers use the same key words, the site which has a lower Quality Score will have to offer a higher price to rank at the same place).
The Commission's investigation shall also seek to verify claims that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, barring such sites from carrying competing adverts on their websites, as well as on computer and software sellers, with the aim of shutting out competitor search engines. Further, the Commission will seek to investigate whether or not Google has been operating restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms.
30 November 2010