For years now Google has proudly had the company motto of ‘Don’t Be Evil’, and you’d think sticking to that would be easy. Today, however, that motto must feel like a bad joke, as Google has been hit with a record breaking €2.42 billion fine by the EU for antitrust practices regarding it’s shopping ads.
This story has been updated - see below for the latest news on Google's response.
This fine comes as the sting in the tail of a seven-year investigation into Google’s search algorithms, which concluded that Google had placed its own shopping ads service above other price comparison sites “irrespective of [their] merits,” and accused the company of “abusing its dominant position by systematically favouring” its own ads.
A slide from the EU commission explaining their argument
This would be the largest antitrust fine ever handed out in European courts, but the €2.42 billion still only amounts to around 2.7% of Google’s annual revenue. Though a very public blemish on Google’s record, this will not break the bank. The more long-term worry for Google is that the ruling has stated that they must end their antitrust practices within 90 days or face further fines. This would mean changing how Google ranks web pages on its search results page to more evenly weight non-Google comparison shopping services.
If this ruling gets enforced, it could have a major effect on the performance of shopping adverts on the
This is very likely to not be the final chapter in the story. Google
This is not the only point of contention between the EU and Google either. There are investigations ongoing into Google’s AdSense
We have, in fact, been proven wrong! Google have agreed to make changes that will resolve the issues the commission raised, and they will have until September 28 to do so, or face further fines. Although we don’t know the specifics of what Google will do to appease the commission, we will let you know as soon as we do!
In a twist of fate, it turns out we were right after all! Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that a lower court had not given enough considerations to Intel’s defence of their use of rebates, which had been deemed as anticompetitive and the source of a $1.3 billion fine.
A few days later, and Google announce that they will in fact be appealing the €2.4 billion fine that they have been given for their antitrust practices. Although a company like Google likely do not make a decision like this in a few days, and their plan was probably in place before the news of Intel’s victory was made public, it is powerful new proof that the appeal process may not be futile.
Google will still be required to implement the changes to their system the commission called for in the initial report for the duration of the appeal. Since this process could stretch on for years we are still going to see a prolonged period of change for Google shopping, and the big news is still yet to break on how exactly Google will be changing their shopping system.