03/12/2010

Europe Gauges Google

A European Commission probe into Internet search engine 'giant' Google has been called after repeated allegations that the company uses its Internet dominance to 'fiddle' statistics for its own benefit.

Google's websites receive some 325 million visitors from Europe alone in a single month - accounting for almost 85% of all search traffic - estimated at almost 34 billion globally each month.

As reported earlier this week in brief on EU Launch Google Probe the heat has been turned up on Google as the European Commission's formal investigation into it allegedly boosting its search results over smaller rivals begins.
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Europe's ultimate 'watchdog' now has to prove allegations that Google fiddles with the data that drives its complex search algorithm, and places search results on the website in order of importance.

The EC will scrutinize Google based on allegations from Foundem, eJustice and Microsoft's Ciao that the search engine links its own services and places them over the smaller comparison-shopping engines.

The Commission will further look into allegations that Google lowered the quality score for sponsored links from competing search services and consider whether Google prevented advertising partners from placing competing ads from some vendors.

However, as sponsored-links ranking depends on how advertisers bid for particular keywords, as well as their respective quality scores, the EC will have to show that any apparent drop in a sponsored advertisers' ad ranking was the result of a specific action by Google to limit competition.

It will have to show this was not the natural outcome of competition in the marketplace.

(BMcC/GK)

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