Google recently stole Apple’s crown as the largest publicly traded company on the planet, and now ,the Silicon Valley search giant could be breaking another record: a $3.4 billion fine from European Union antitrust regulators. After a seven-year investigation, Google is facing a massive fine for monopoly abuse related to its shopping results.
For anyone who works in the Internet marketing world, this is major news. It doesn’t matter whether you specialize in pay per click advertising, social media marketing, or local search, any digital marketing agency has to play by Google’s rules. For years, the Internet marketing world has argued that the search engine world would benefit greatly from increased competition, but so far, Google has deftly avoided monopoly accusations.
EU investigators argue that Google unfairly prioritized its own shopping results over competitors. News broke this week that Margarethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, is eager to slap Google with the multi-billion euro monopoly fine. The previous competition commissioner sought to reach a deal with Google, but now that such talks have failed, The Sunday Telegraph reports that Vestager wants to take a more aggressive approach:
Legal sources said the fine it faces over shopping comparison is likely to take account of the fact that Google abused its monopoly on general web search over many years. The European Commission may also seek to make an example of the company over changes to its algorithms during the investigation that made it even harder for competitors to thrive, as well as what some officials now see as its delaying tactics during the investigation.
Google dominates the search engine world, and Google Shopping is just one part of its search empire. Now, EU regulators are looking into possible monopoly abuses of Google’s android smartphone as well.
Although Google is mostly known by consumers for its search engine and email activities, the company makes the vast majority of its revenue from search advertising, and Google Shopping is a prime location for search advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported last year that search ads accounted for 39% of all online advertising in the first half of 2014, or $9.1 billion. When mobile search revenue was added, the total was $11.8 billion. Since then, mobile users have grown to account for 52% of all search advertising clicks, and once again, Google dominates the mobile search world.
Google sets the rules of the road for the Internet marketing world in a number of ways. For instance, content marketing has become so popular mainly because Google prioritizes sites with strong content. And because websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages, most websites now have a blog to satisfy Google’s content requirements.
Of course, Google is sure to fight these monopoly charges as they have before, but for Google’s critics, this is a big victory.