Pretty much everyone who writes for Adland has been warning about Google's monopoly for many years now, I even inserted it as a topic when Resumé interviewed me recently. Finally, the European Commission has slapped a record breaking fine Google, after it ruled the company had abused its power by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results. The ruling also orders Google to end this anti-competitive practice within 90 days, or they will face a further penalty. If the Shopping service hasn't changed operations they could be forced to make payments of 5% of its parent company Alphabet's average daily worldwide earnings. That amounts to about $14m a day.
Take a breath. Lets calculate that again. 5% is $14m a day. Holy moly, Google makes a lot of dosh.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's Competition Commissioner, held nothing back:
"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation."
The British price comparison service Foundem welcomed the announcement, their executive Shivaun Raff stated:
"Although the record-breaking 2.42bn euro fine is likely to dominate the headlines, the prohibition of Google's immensely harmful search manipulation practices is far more important.
For well over a decade, Google's search engine has played a decisive role in determining what most of us read, use and purchase online. Left unchecked, there are few limits to this gatekeeper power."
Google has indicated that they may appeal. They have also previously suggested that Amazon and eBay have more influence over consumer spending habits. A Google spokesman stated this in response to the ruling:
"When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both. We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case."