It is important to note that the concerns expressed in this letter are not an effort to protect any specific competitor
Bing: A Microsoft & Yahoo Production?
Bing, a partnership of Microsoft and Yahoo
Yahoo Search, a partnership of Microsoft and Yahoo
Bing & Yahoo Distant To Google?
…which is a distant second in market share and is losing an estimated $2 billion annually…
Google Favors Itself (Like Everyone Else)
Rather than act as an honest broker of unbiased search results, Google’s search results appear to favor the company’s own web products and services
Google critics also argue that the very layout of the Google search results first page is biased in favor of its own products and services. They point to the amount of the “real estate” in the search result page devoted to Google content, including paid advertising at the top and on the right of the page, and the Google “places” or “onebox” results, which are not designated as Google results separate rom the algorithmic results. Consumers have no way of knowing that these one box results are not pat of the algorithmic results.
Does The Committee Know FTC Guidelines Already Exist?
We believe, under the FTC’s mandate to protect consumers rom misleading and deceptive practices, the FTC should seriously consider requiring Google to label its “onebox” or “places” listing (or other similar listings), as Google products, just as it labels paid search results.
The FTC did not address the issue of content promotion, where a portal site might list its own content over others in search results. For example, at Yahoo, a search usually brings up the “Inside Yahoo” matches at the top of the page. This is Yahoo’s own content, being promoted over others.Similarly, at MSN Search, the “Featured Listings” area may promote MSN’s own content, or content of advertisers or sponsors, or even content of good web sites for free, if they editorially deserve to be there.I asked Thomas and Forbes if there was any guidance on this issue, and the view that emerged seemed to be to err on the side of caution. Favoritism of any type should be disclosed, to avoid consumer confusion.
Ignores One FTC Guideline While Pushing For Another
Also at our Subcommittee hearing, Yelp! CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz testified that Google’s practice of favoring its own content harms them directly by depriving their sites of user traffic and advertising revenue.Mr. Stoppelman testified that 75 percent of Yelp!’s web traffic consists of consumers who find its website as a result of Google searches, and Mr. Katz testiied that 65 percent of Nextag’s traffic originates from Google searches.They testified that losing this trafic would threaten the continued viability of their companies, which would have to spend much more on advertising to make up for lost traffic coming from Google queries.
Proof Of Google Favoring Its Own Sites!
As discussed at our Subcommittee hearing, Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services, admitted in a 2007 speech that Google did in fact preference its own websites. She acknowledged that, in the past, Google ranked links“based on popularity … but when we roll[ed] out Google Finance, we did put the Google link first. It seems only fair, right? We do all the work for the search page and all these other things, so we do put it first… That has actually been our policy, since then … So for Google Maps again, it’s the first link, so on and so forth. And later that it’s ranked usually by popularity.”In response to written follow-up questions asking whether her statement was an accurate statement of Google policy, Eric Schmidt stated that “it is my understanding that she was referring to the placement of links within a onebox … and her description was accurate.”While the basis for Mr. Schmidt’s “understanding” is not clear, even if her statement was in fact limited to the “onebox” result, this is a clear admission of preferencing Google results.
based on various published metrics like comScore and Media Metrix, so we had the five top finance sites in their order of popularity listed there. So when we rolled out Google Finance, we did put the Google link first. It seems only fair, right? We do all the work for the search page and all these other things, so we do put it first, but and that’s actually been our policy and because of finance we actually implemented it in other places So for Google Maps again, it’s the first link, so on and so forth. And after that that it’s ranked usually by popularity
This Is Your Smoking Gun?
Google Doesn’t Own Motorola Mobility
Additionally, Google owns the popular Android operating system for smart phones and in September 2011 announced its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a leading mobile phone manufacturer.
The One-Sided Setup
Google strongly denies the arguments of its critics. Google claims it has done nothing to harm competition and that it merely seeks to serve consumers with the best Internet search results.
We are committed to ensuring that consumers benefit from robust competition in online search and that the Internet remains the source of much free-market innovation. We therefore urge the FTC to investigate the issues raised at our Subcommittee hearing to determine whether Google’s actions violate antitrust law or substantially harm consumers or competition in this vital industry.