back to article Google on Google: The carefully collated anti-trust truth

Google doesn’t always take the threat of anti-trust charges too seriously. After the Wall Street Journal implied that the FTC opted for less aggressive action against Google because of political pressure, Google responded with references to a laughing baby, and by personally attacking the newspaper’s owner. After all, when you …

  1. ST Silver badge
    Mushroom

    After a thorough, independent and hard-hitting investigation ...

    ... conducted by Google's Most Excellent In-House Attorneys, Google has determined that Google's business practices do not even come close to violating any anti-trust laws, anywhere.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: After a thorough, independent and hard-hitting investigation ...

      Shades of The Hutton Report where it was neatly decided that whether or not the UK had a basis for going to war wasn't really relevant. Remember this tactic - if you can't avoid the answers to a question, change the question.

  2. oldcoder

    There is always an explaination of the dips... one is that the new entrant (Google) does a better job than the incumbents.

    1. h4rm0ny

      >>"There is always an explaination of the dips... one is that the new entrant (Google) does a better job than the incumbents."

      Possible, but one must show that the job they did was better because it was actually done better, not because it was riding on the back of their existing services. And when you have the West's most popular search engine and your results are appearing at the top of those search results, it is hard not to think this was not a very big factor.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        On the other hand, the FoundEm presentation admits clearly that it chooses the incumbents that showed a dip in traffic, and dismisses those that do not as statistical anomalies. I guess they're honest about it at least.

        I note also that FoundEm did not include their own numbers anywhere on the graph. I suppose that's because the "much-lauded price comparison site" was never successful enough to register at all…

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      one is that the new entrant (Google) does a better job than the incumbents.

      Always a strong possibility. Google frequently do a very good job - although they've had plenty of failures as well.

      But in this same case, some of Google's internal emails came to light. Embarrassing ones. From the internal user testing department, where they said that Google's own shopping search sucked, and that people preferred the other ones. The weird thing is that Google's own shopping service was increasing market share at this point - and one suggestion is that this is because Google were shoving themselves to the top of the list.

      Oddly, given Google's obvious expertise in search, they've been shit at shopping searches as for long as I can remember. They had a service they killed off called Froogle ten years ago, and they've had various attempts at it since, and none of them have been very good. Not helped by the almost identical ads they show, next to their supposedly cheapest price results nowadays.

      1. Paul Shirley
        WTF?

        There's a simple explanation for an unmistakably bad service like Google Shopping beating the incumbents, it wasn't quite as crap as them. I quit using Kelkoo long before Google joined the game, a straight search often gave better results than so called specialists. And Kelkoo was one of the better ones!

        Comparison sites are in trouble because they don't offer anything to distinguish their product from everyone else's. Favourable page placement has a disproportionate effect *because* it's hard to care which poor quality service you end up on. They got caught badly by the SEO hammer because they did what every poor business on the internet does, spent their money on sleazy SEO. I for one will never miss finding entire search pages full of bad comparison sites instead of the product information I actually wanted.

        By all means stop Google favouring it's own offering but try not to pretend those sites deserved success. Or that they've improved more than was needed to escape the ban hammer.

        ...and the idea that Foundem was lauded anywhere outside it's own PR dept is laughable. They sank without trace after the launch announcement, long before the period they're whining about.

  3. NotWorkAdmin

    My 2 cents

    From this list: Pricegrabber, Shopping.com, Dealtime, Nextag, Ciao, Pricerunner, Shopzilla and Bizrate I can say the company I work for has tried at least once to advertise through every one of these. Without exception, they all generated huge quantities of clicks and virtually no sales whatsoever.

    I know this sounds like a defence of Google Shopping, but like any business ought to we analyse this kind of thing. Google Shopping is exclusively the one CPC referral "website" that we can actually make margin advertising with.

    No, I don't like monopolies. But by the same token the above list of "competitors" are unworkable for the business I work for. I would prefer that not be the case but staying in business is kind of important.

    1. elDog Silver badge

      Re: My 2 cents

      More as a consumer than a web developer, I wonder if the poor performance of the click-throughs is because there is nothing appropriate on the other end of the link. When these listed shopping services send you the link click information is there enough for you to bring up a very relevant page of info?

      My other thought is that there is so much flooding of the advertising bandwidth that we (the consumers) have a hard time figuring out where to go. Also, marketing just isn't as efficient as its proponents think it is (and sell it as.)

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick

        Re: My 2 cents

        @My 2 Cents

        "Also, marketing just isn't as efficient as its proponents think it is (and sell it as.)"

        Bingo. Please allow me to add a penny, I have it left over from when spam calls were obviously going out of control ...

        The reason an excess of any commercial tactic has for going viral is not that it "works" but that rather the man in the middle has been paid in advance.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: My 2 cents

      My £0.02 back on this.

      I avoid price comparison sites like the plague. Whenever I've landed on one (perhaps because I've clicked on the link presented by Google thinking it was a retailer rather than a PCS) it usually presents a load of links to the product I'm looking for that are either:

      1. Links to other price comparison sites claiming to have links to retailers for even cheaper (which eventually link back to this PCS)

      Or 2. Links to retailers that either don't have the product in stock any more or never did in the first place.

      PCS are a complete waste of time IME so perhaps this explains why you never got any decent business from the click throughs they generated to your site.

      Not that I like Google, their creepy web stalking, or the behaviour alleged by this article; my only point is PCS are worse than useless as they claim to be able to source the item you're looking for when this isn't the case. Perhaps PCS ought to be reclassified as Click Bait sites.

  4. scrubber

    Free services are not free

    Google services are free services, not public services. I'm struggling to see what the hell regulators are playing at here.

    Google offered free search and the price was the preferential placement of its profitable services. Competitors should have either advertised more/better so people would go to their site before searching for goods/services, or they could build a better search algorithm.

    Running off crying to government seems like an anti-competitive, anti-capitalist move.

    NB. This is wholly different from the Intel vs AMD thing in late 90's or most of the MS issues, they both broke anti-competition rules.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Free services are not free

      The technical term for what Foundem and others are doing is "rent seeking" - the expenditure of resources in order to bring about an uncompensated transfer of goods or services from another person or persons to one's self as the result of a “favorable” decision on some public policy.

      (www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/rent-seeking_behavior)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Free services are not free

      The regulators appear to be deciding that "vertical search" (in this case price comparison search), is a different market to general search. Therefore if Google dominate general search, due to being the best, that's all fine and dandy. They're allowed that monopoly, so long as they don't use unfair tactics to maintain it.

      What they're not allowed to do, is to leverage that monopoly in order to gain unfair advantage in other markets. This is why MS got fined so hugely for giving away Internet Explorer for free. Or why Intel were fined for using their PC processor monopoly to protect them in the server market from AMD's superior Opteron chips.

      I used sites like pricerunner 5-10 years ago, but stopped because they were usually finding me deals that were only pennies cheaper than the places I was already looking. And why risk a transaction with an unknown company online to save 5p? Google's offer was no better, and yet killed them off. There's an argument that like a lot of stuff on the web, they might have improved. But they didn't get a chance, because they got killed off. As Google's own internal research was saying that Google's service was actually worse than theirs - this could be a clear example of a dominant monopoly abusing its power by stopping progress in a related market. Or equally they might all have remained crap up to now and still no-one would be using them. We'll never know.

      However Google will just have to live with this. They've got that search monopoly. They're the gatekeeper to the internet. They have massive power, and they don't seem to be very careful about who they piss on, when they use it. That lack of moderation is going to get them attention from regulators. And actually should do. That's what regulators are for, and if you want free markets, then you have to regulate monopolies. Not that government aren't at least as capable of screwing up as Google are...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On this note, adding: -"search results" to your Google queries will get rid of most of the crappy link farms.

  6. tom dial Silver badge

    Things I like to watch out for in presentations

    1. Charts that don't show one or more of the scale units.

    2. Charts and tables that show percentages, and especially change percentages, but not the base numbers/units used to compute them.

  7. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thank god for google

    Several years ago, Foundem was a much-lauded price comparison site

    Perhaps in some parallel universe, far, far away, but not here.

    But what Google omitted were the price comparison engines that suffered during the period the European Commission is examining: Pricegrabber, Shopping.com, Dealtime, Nextag, Ciao, Pricerunner, Shopzilla and Bizrate.

    Thank god - every single one was a parasite feeding off my searches, infesting them with pages of meaningless results.

  8. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I hate the comparison sites that pop up in a search promising to offer me the best deal on a "severe head injury" or whatever I happen to have been researching.

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