European antitrust chief says Google’s auction-based shopping remedy not working

11/12/2019 06:09 AM
European antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said yesterday at a conference that Google’s efforts to drive more traffic to European comparison shopping rivals have essentially failed. This is a reversal of her previous, qualified support for the changes Google made in response to a European Commission finding in 2017 that the company had “abused its market position” in shopping search.

The $2.7 billion story. That 2017 determination, which Google has appealed, came with a penalty of nearly €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion). In addition, Google was required to provide “equal treatment” to European shopping comparison competitors on the SERP. That turned out to be a remedy involving bidding for placement in Product Listing Ads (PLAs). It required Google Shopping itself to compete for placement with the comparison engines with no dedicated or reserved slots.

Google Shopping, newly operating as a as a stand-alone business unit, was also required to maintain a profit (20%) and submit to regular review by the European Commission to ensure it’s competing on equal terms.