recommended reading

Here’s How Google Search Will Change After a 3-Year Battle With European Regulators


It’s finally over. After three years of back and forth, the European Commission announced an agreement with Google Wednesday morning that will govern the placement of competitors’ ads on Google’s search services. The Commission opened an investigation in Nov. 2010 after Google’s rivals claimed the search engine demoted their sites in search results.   

Once the agreement becomes a legally binding, a bureaucratic process than involves getting the rival firms, including Microsoft, to withdraw their complaints, Google will have to prominently display the services of three rivals alongside its own products—but only for search results served in Europe.

Here’s a search for “gas grill” as it appears today. The images up top are ads placed by Google for its shopping search service:


Once Google makes the changes, it will have to show rivals’ ads (which they must pay for through an independently-overseen bidding process) with the same prominence as its own:


Which applies wherever and however the results and ads are served. This is how it will look on a mobile screen:


Similarly, this is how Google will promote rival services for business listings. Note the competitors at the very top:


The challenge of concluding this agreement is apparent in a set of images, taken from an internal Commission document, that show Google’s final proposal for new ad displays, late in 2013. Here’s what Google had in mind (pdf) then:


Rivals’ links were placed further down, and offered users the option to hide them.

On mobile, competitors didn’t show up until clicked (see the boxed text in the image to the left).


Like any good compromise, the final agreement leaves all parties dissatisfied. Google, which must abide by the rules for five years, was never thrilled at the idea of cluttering its results with links to other businesses, even if it doesn’t make any material difference to its bottom line. But it had little choice. Not making concessions would have meant protracted negotiations and legal challenges, and the possibility of a fine of up 10% of its revenue which for 2012, or about $5 billion.

Google’s rivals would have liked the Commission to go much further, perhaps even stopping Google from promoting its own businesses. This, too, is impractical. They have called the Commission’s decision not to seek their opinion before agreeing to the deal “a massive failure.” Indeed, the Commission is the only party that seems to have got what it wanted—a deal it can call a victory, even if it produces few tangible benefits for anybody.

(Image via antb /

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion

Florida’s Concealed Carry Permit Holders Names Exposed

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.