The EU’s decision to fine Google €2.4 billion for favouring its own shopping search results over those of competing price comparison websites is still sending sizeable shockwaves around the marketing and advertising industries.
Rendered back in June 2017, the decision has had many people in the industry discussing in vehement terms things like antitrust practices, unfair advantages, the real competitiveness of online shopping and much more. The issue shows no sign of abating, as Google is forced to meet stricter EU requirements and change its entire Shopping ads structure.
Read on to find out what all the fuss is about and how Google has responded thus far.
The EU Decision
As far as the EU regulators were concerned, this ban put Google at an unfair advantage because, firstly, the search engine favoured its own shopping search results and saw the benefits and, secondly, because there was no way for price comparison sites to compete if they found themselves locked out of one of the internet’s most powerful – and profitable – advertising streams.
While this might seem reasonable enough, the decision saw severe pushback not just from Google, but from experts across the marketing, advertising and consumer-focused fields. But why?
The Google Response
Responding to the fine, Google was very open about what it felt would be a negative consumer impact.
The search engine stated that the reason its Shopping Ads were so successful is that it allowed users to find and buy what they wanted in a quick, seamless manner. It would be fair to say that Google understands its audience so it was confident in its declaration that consumers want a targeted, fast and hassle-free buying experience.
The EU ruling, on the other hand, went completely against the grain of everything Google engineered its Shopping Ads, algorithms and associated functions to do. By being forced to include shopping comparison results, the consumer could find themselves pulled into a longer, altogether less convenient shopping experience.
Outside observers might also point out that the ruling did nothing to help medium-sized and smaller retailers gain a beneficial toehold in a tough advertising environment. Major price comparison sites have the resources to outspend 99% of retailers on the Shopping Ads platform, and this increased level of spending and competition could potentially mean inflated CPC costs for retailers.
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