A PYMNTS Company

EU: What the Google settlement means for online searches

 |  February 5, 2014

As news emerged this week that the European Commission has approved of Google’s third round of concessions offered to quell competition concerns, details are being reported about what the end of the three-year probe will mean for online searches in the EU.

Organic search

According to reports, the settlement offered by Google means the company will have to give equal weight to at least three of its rivals when displaying search results on services such as travel and restaurants.

For example, when displaying restaurant reviews from its Zagat rating service, it will also have to promote restaurant reviews from rival review websites.

The agreement was approved by Commission in efforts to level the online search playing firled for rivals like Yelp, Microsoft, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor when consumers search for flights, hotels and other services.


Reports also note that Google has made concessions in the agreements it makes with advertisers whose campaigns appear on search result lists.

Rivals had complained to EU regulators that Google makes exclusive agreements with publishers and that it restricts advertisers’’ ability to switch to Google’s rivals.

Reports say Google has removed those restrictions as part of its offer.

Rivals react

Despite European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia’s assurance that the concessions are a vast improvement upon Google’s last two offers, rivals criticize the settlement and the EU’s acceptance of it as the Commission decided not to market test the concessions or consult with complainants before clearing the deal.

Following Google’s offer, FairSearch Europe, which represents Expedia, Microsoft and other Google rivals, slammed the concessions as “worse than doing nothing.”

”These proposed commitments have not been subjected to any form of consultation, although it was thanks to market testing of industry participants that the Commission had condemned two previous packages of proposed commitments as fatally flawed,” the group said.

FairSearch said it needs to review the offer in full, but its concerned for several aspects of the settlement, including Google’s policy of requiring rivals to bid for having their search results displayed.

Full Content: Skift

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.