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Google Backs Competitors Amid EU Antitrust Probe

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In an apparent effort to appease European Union antitrust regulators, Google is attempting to boost rivals like Kelkoo, a French price-comparison service, according to report by Reuters.

The European Commission fined the company $2.7 billion two years ago for violating antitrust rules by using its search engine to promote its own services over others.

Google then allowed price-comparison sites to make bids for advertising space in premium real estate at the top of a search page, but competitors said that didn’t even things out enough.

Kelkoo said it was one of a number of companies chosen to try out a new link that Google introduced earlier this month, aimed at getting more traffic to price-comparison rivals.

“Last week, Google has 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 programme will benefit from the additional qualified traffic that these CSSs provide,” Kelkoo  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.”

The blog was aimed at merchants who might use Kelkoo.

“Google’s CLA new solution will provide a source of traffic to CSS sites, and we can provide more additional qualified e-shoppers to the CSS merchants. The better positioned merchants are on their CSS results pages, the more they will benefit from this additional traffic,” Kelkoo said. “Subscribe to our solution and you can expect to have popular offers well positioned across our pan-European websites.”

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is reportedly aware of rival companies’ criticism of Google’s proposed solution, and enforcers could tack fines of up to 5 percent of Google’s average daily worldwide turnover if it doesn’t comply with the 2017 order.

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