Google loses appeal, fines €2.4 billion for store antitrust | GeekComparison

Google loses appeal, fines €2.4 billion for store antitrust

Google and the European Union are still battling over different product bundling schemes in Google’s empire. The latest news has to do with the integration of Google Shopping with Google Search. In 2017, the EU ruled that the integration of Google Shopping with Search violated antitrust laws. Today, Google lost its appeal and the court upheld the €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) fine. Google can appeal the ruling one more time, but this time the company would go to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court of the EU.

As in many other antitrust lawsuits facing Google worldwide, EU regulators disagreed that Google is artificially promoting its own services above the competition on the search results page. Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Flights all automatically get premium spots above the organic search results.

Google’s verticals provide Google’s search results with rich, often useful content beyond the standard “10 blue links” interface, but there’s no reason why non-Google services can’t provide this data as well. Google often says that regulations will remove these rich results from search results, but it has a whole “structured data format” that allows for rich results from non-Google sites, so the claim is wrong. Google regularly shows high-result content from third-party sites these days; it’s just not pinned to the top of the page.

Google Shopping is a different beast than Google’s other services. From 2012 to 2020, it was exclusively a vector for advertisements. Instead of an organic list of shopping-oriented search results, each listing was something a product seller paid for. Google dropped its “paid listing only” policy in April 2020, and now if you scroll down the site you’ll see some organic (and free) listings. Unlike Google Search, Shopping is still not an indexed service where Google scours the internet for information. Instead, merchants need to sign up for a “Google Merchant Center account” and send Google a structured feed of product data.

The origins of the Google Search/Google Shopping complaint go back to 2009 and today’s ruling may not even be the final ruling if Google chooses to appeal again. Google continues to face other EU antitrust cases related to AdSense and Android, and the EU is conducting additional investigations into Google’s advertising activities.

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