Google’s on-line procuring search engine continues to be disadvantaging EU rivals regardless of a regulatory crackdown three years in the past that led the search big to change its practices, a brand new research has claimed.
Lower than 1 per cent of site visitors via Google Purchasing is at the moment being directed to rival comparability procuring websites resembling Kelkoo and Idealo, the evaluation of 10.5bn clicks, commissioned by 25 comparability procuring websites, confirmed.
Within the three years since Google up to date its coverage to grant rivals “entry” to its procuring platform by permitting them to bid for slots on it, following an EU penalty over alleged anti-competitive behaviour, the visibility and profitability of its rivals have halved, in line with the analysis.
Google’s overhaul of its procuring search got here in 2017 after the European Fee fined the tech big a file €2.4bn over abuse complaints, and mentioned it should “provide the [advertising] area on the identical phrases to Google Purchasing and its rivals”. Nevertheless, the measures it has taken in response to the crackdown have carried out little to assuage regulators’ considerations.
Thomas Hoppner, a lawyer at Hausfeld advising the businesses, mentioned the research by Lademann & Associates was the primary complete empirical analysis that confirmed Google’s chosen answer nonetheless posed a risk to competitors.
Mr Hoppner mentioned that Google’s rivals continued to be deprived regardless of the adjustments as a result of listings inside Google Purchasing items — bins which seem above its important search outcomes — hyperlink straight to retailers’ web sites, bypassing value comparability websites.
“Lower than 1 per cent [of users clicking on Google Shopping boxes] will see any rival [price comparison] web site — as a result of Google’s bins solely hyperlink on to the retailers’ web sites,” he mentioned.
He added that Google’s important search outcomes, that are a key supply of site visitors, had been additionally unaffected by the adjustments — which means that general Google’s treatment “has not improved the aggressive state of affairs in any respect”.
“The Fee at all times rejected Google’s notion that the case involved any ‘entry’ to Google’s procuring unit and insisted that it was about equal therapy inside Google’s total normal search outcomes pages.”
Google is contesting the positive and has insisted it’s not towards competitors guidelines to develop a profitable product.
The analysis, which incorporates knowledge from Germany’s Idealo, the UK’s Kelkoo and Poland’s Ceneo, comes forward of the Common Court docket’s determination, which is anticipated on the finish of the yr on the earliest.
At a three-day listening to in Luxembourg in February, Thomas Graf, a associate at regulation agency Cleary Gottlieb performing on behalf of Google, mentioned: “Competitors regulation doesn’t require Google to carry again innovation or compromise its high quality to accommodate rivals.”
Final November Europe’s competitors commissioner Margrethe Vestager informed an viewers Google’s overhaul was not working.
“We nonetheless don’t see a lot site visitors for viable rivals in the case of procuring comparability,” she mentioned.
Nevertheless, Olivier Guersent, director-general of the EU’s competitors unit, informed a convention that officers had been seeing “constructive developments” after Google launched extra selection in its procuring unit.
“I don’t assume any authority on this planet can assure a selected markets end result and I don’t assume we must always even attempt to,” he mentioned.
He additionally cited knowledge displaying that 83 per cent of procuring items embody a minimum of one different rival and round 47 per cent of clicks go to these.
Google mentioned of the research: “These figures ignore the information of the Purchasing determination. The treatment has labored efficiently for 3 years, producing billions of clicks for greater than 600 comparability procuring companies, and is topic to the intensive monitoring of the EU Fee.”