A recent survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by CityGrid Media in the USA, reported that search is the dominant way people look for local business information. The results seem to echo conclusions made in an ICOMP White Paper, published earlier this year. More and more we are seeing businesses and private individual realise that search is truly the gateway to the internet and provides income for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
The recent FTC decision to examine antitrust claims against Google gained attention around the world particularly with ICOMP where one of our major pillars is the promotion of a healthy online marketplace. Google does indeed have such a high degree of market power as to be under a special responsibility not to harm competition further.
As David Wood, ICOMP Legal Council wrote in an earlier blog post, one of the main concerns is “not that poor sites do badly, but that good sites are downgraded so that Google can place its own, often lower quality sites, higher. This is not only bad for competitors, it is bad for consumers since they are deprived of choice and innovation”.
As a response to these recent events and the increased pressure that Google is putting on the online marketplace, ICOMP recently published a White Paper called Google Under the Antitrust Microscope. The Paper provides a detailed overview of the current state of recent and ongoing investigations into Google’s abuse of its dominant position in internet search. It also looks to outline the actual impact of these behaviours on the network and the effects on other industries that are not automatically associated with the search engine.
One of these areas is advertising, the method through which Google makes most revenue. By collecting vast amounts of data about individuals through their search habits and other products, it is possible to sell advertising space that targets specific demographics and even individuals. Naturally this affects the advertising industry because “as far as advertisers and publishers are concerned there is no alternative to Google” and therefore competition is certainly not “just one click away”.
It is not merely enough to claim that these issues exist. Remedies to the problems are needed to ensure that it does not become more widespread across other verticals and in other markets. As such any antidote must address a number of issues, for example the scale and dominance of Google and the distortion of competition.
ICOMP encourages all parties to voice both concerns and unease to the relevant authorities. Only by voicing opinions can real and effective change occur which will truly benefit companies of all sizes and in turn economies around the world.
The ICOMP Secretariat