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EU: DuckDuckGo is the winner in Google’s search auction

 |  January 9, 2020

Google is almost ready to release a new search provider selection screen in the EU, but it’s not doing so by choice. Last year, the EU ordered Google to offer placement to other search engines in Android, and Google is complying in the most Google way possible. It has conducted an auction for spots in the setup flow, and now the results are in. DuckDuckGo is a big winner, and Bing is almost entirely absent. 

The EU antitrust decision in 2018 hammered Google for its practice of integrating Google Search with Android. If users wanted to use a different search engine, they had to manually install it and change the defaults. That’s a fine setup in most countries, but the EU is much more aggressive about pursuing antitrust matters. In addition to ordering Google to change its practices, it imposed a record $5 billion fine. 

Google might end up recouping some of that loss when the new selection screen rolls out. The company opted to go with a “fourth-price” auction to choose the search providers. For each EU country, providers were invited to bid on one of the four spots. The three top bids get a place on the selection screen along with Google. However, they don’t pay the amount of their proposal. Each time a user selects a search engine, that company pays Google the amount of the fourth-highest bid. The selection screen controls which engine appears as the default in Chrome and the home screen search widget. The phone also downloads the search app from the Play Store automatically.