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UE/US: Yelp says Google hasn’t done enough to highlight rivals

 |  March 20, 2019

While Google is making ad changes to appease European Union regulators, it isn’t enough to help its rivals, according to Yelp.

Two years ago, the European Commission fined Google a whopping US$2.7 billion for violating antitrust rules by using its search engine to promote its own services over its rivals. Google was also hit with a €4.34 billion euro (US$4.91 billion) fine last year for using its Android operating system to block competitors, and is now facing another antitrust fine from the EU in the coming weeks over its AdSense advertising product.

In an effort to appease EU regulators, Google is now attempting to boost rivals like Kelkoo, a French price-comparison search service.

“Last week, Google announced a new Ad placement on its search pages: Comparison Listing Ads (CLAs). Merchants who are working with the small number of Google-approved CSSs (Comparison Shopping Services) taking part in this program will benefit from the additional qualified traffic that these CSSs provide,” Kelkoo wrote said in a blog post. “Google will launch CLA in beta over the next few weeks. Kelkoo is one of the selected few partners that are able to provide this opportunity,” Kelkoo wrote to its merchants.

But Luther Lowe, SVP of public policy for Yelp, wrote in a blog post that Google’s latest efforts only deliver a “marginal percentage of clicks” to rivals as it steers most traffic to its own services.

“The latest rival links proposal, which has been reported on by multiple media outlets, still receives a slightly improved but ultimately marginal percentage of clicks (around 5%), while Google’s capture of web traffic has increased by approximately 20% since the original proposal over five years ago. Seven in ten clicks go to Google (compared to about five in ten clicks from the ‘13-’14 proposals). These trends are consistent with other empirical evidence showing Google is eating more and more of the web in order to steer traffic to itself,” wrote Lowe.

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