Google has been involved in a massive antitrust legal battle with the European Union for the past few months and recently, it was handed the largest fine ever for its “Google Shopping” services. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that Google will split off that service in order to meet demands from that case.
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Google Shopping has long been viewed as Google taking advantage of its own services to push away the competition, as Shopping commonly shows up above paid advertisements. The EU found this as an “illegal advantage” and thus fined the company to the tune of €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) with the demand to cease those actions.
While Google is appealing the case, the company is quickly approaching a Thursday deadline to comply with those demands before daily fines kick in. Bloomberg reports that three sources “familiar with the investigation” are stating that Google is planning to comply by splitting Google Shopping off into a standalone service.
Apparently, this split will begin auctioning off the slots currently held by Google Shopping to retailers and competing shopping sites. Google’s own shopping service will apparently also be able to show in these slots, but it will only be able to do so based on its own revenue, not money directly from Google itself. The report states:
The company will tweak an advertising panel at the top of the search screen that shows several pictures of products with links to retailers’ websites, one person said. Each of 10 slots will be auctioned off to give rival sites, such as Kelkoo.com or Shopzilla Inc., a chance to buy space to show links to retailers. Any changes only affect Google’s sites in Europe.
While Google Shopping can bid for those slots, it will be run separately to ensure that its bids reflect its own operating costs and aren’t subsidized by Google. Regulators have accepted that the panel is for advertising and slots cannot be given away, the person said. Each slot will be labeled with the name of the service providing the link, such as “By Google,” similar to pages that showed up on French and Dutch versions of Google last week.
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