Google is central to the majority of people’s internet usage, however, at present, it is also seems to be one of a collection of companies in the firing line. The reason for this is the sheer size of companies like Google and Apple, what they know about their users and how much of the market they control.
Regulatory bodies in both Europe (European Commission (EC) and the USA (Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been investigating Google for 18 months for apparent monopolisation of the search and search-related advertising markets, along anti-trust laws.
Google hold 90% of the search market in Europe and around 65% in the USA and as such are the key player in the search market in both regions. The way it behaves, in such a consumer and advertising driven market is likely therefore, to raise comment and possible concern.
It now seems though fairly likely that regulatory intervention against the way that it displays search results for example, may be taken.
Both regulatory bodies have met to discuss their respective cases, which are based on complaints by other companies such as Microsoft, who have raised concerns that Google use their control of the search market to take advantage and give their own products preferential treatment and position. One example of which was noted as the positioning of Google shopping ahead of organic search options.
If they were to rule against Google, one option open to the EC and FTC is to impose a fine of a value up to 1% of the company’s value.
It is widely believed that if these bodies are to both rule against Google, who would be forced to bow to pressure for a rearrangement of the positioning of their search results. Google have previously suggested to the EC that it could label all of the options they offer, so as to highlight that Google had chosen them. This seems to have been rejected.
The EC and FTC do seem to closing in on rulings, something welcomed by Google who believe that the investigations have gone on for long enough.
Search advertisers and companies that rely on search engines as their main source of traffic, as yet, remain in anticipation of the rulings and how they are likely to affect their online marketing strategies. Would this have an effect on their PPC campaigns or SEO activities?
This question will only be answered once the regulators have reached a decision, but this now seems imminent.