Google Abusing Its Dominant Position in Search, Online Advertising Market: CCI
Google has been the largest search engine in the world for the longest period of time now. No matter how many search engines come and go, no one can suppress powers of this Internet giant. However, it has also found itself in the news for wrong reasons every now and then.
Internet entrepreneurs have been now constantly hitting out at Google’s growing power, as the company has been unfairly squeezing out rivals. It causing problems with customers and landing into problems with regulatory authorities was not a far-fetched scene. CCI has now charged Google India for rigging search results.
CCI has collected response from 30 companies including Flipkart, MMT, MapMyIndia, GroupM, etc. as part of the ongoing case against Google, which involves Bharat Matrimony. Google needs to file its response by Sep 10th.
It also has the option to seek more time to respond to the CCI report. It had been fined Rs.1 crore last year for delaying information the commission had sought. This time, if the commission finds Google guilty, it can ask the company to make changes in the way it does business.
“As a result of Google policy, it is unavoidable for the trademark owners to participate and outbid third parties in the auction process for their ads to appear above others in response to search queries on their own trademark keywords,” said the report.
“We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation,” a Google spokesman said in an email to ET. “We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws. Regulators and courts around the world, including in the US, Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, have looked into and found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report.”
This is what the companies have to say about Google:
- Flipkart: Rank of our webpage links on Google’s search results pages appear to have a correlation with the amount of money Flipkart spends on SEM advertising on Google.
- MapMyIndia: This ‘free’ service (Google Maps) is in reality cross-subsidized by its search-based advertisement results.
- GroupM: Have not faced any problems in the management of ad campaigns, interoperability of campaign-level data across different search advertising platforms (Google and Bing) and adwords API.
- MakeMyTrip.com: The only reason Google is able to provide such high visibility to its products (hotel and flight search) is because of its dominant share in the search market, a platform that Google is using to cross-sell its own products.
Zomato’s founder Deepinder Goyal went a step ahead in calling Google ‘unethical’ for showing its rating in Zomato’s search listings. The company is definitely not pleased as Google is trying to ambush its listings. The giant search engine is embedding its own rating/review of restaurants under Zomato’s search results listings. Clear abuse of power!
As a proof, Deepinder posted this screenshot on his twitter timeline.
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) August 27, 2015
Though this is the first case on the global platform where an antitrust body is formally raising such charges against Google, but there have been other government officials raising a voice over this in the past.
Last year, Germany’s justice minister said that the possibility of dismantling Google should be considered if the Internet giant abuses its dominant position. Can you even imagine a company ruling over 95% of the market? Such a condition in market terms is not sensible, nor healthy. Google generates humongous profits every year through its AdWords program. The biases displayed are just to suit business.
What’s your take on this issue? Is the self-filtration of search results and self promotion by suppressing competitors illegal/unethical on behalf of Google?