Google faces £9m-a-day fine over product listing practices

155
google

Google has come under fresh pressure to level the playing field in its shopping section as it faces fresh antitrust fines.

The tech giant has proposed an auction system after being condemned for favouring its own shopping services on its Product Listing Ads section.

The European Commission recently issued the company with a record fine of €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) for failing to treat competitors equally.

It has proposed an auction system in which rival comparison sites must bid for their place on the listings, reserving the top two for its own services and setting the floor price for bids itself.

The proposal has been widely rejected by rival price comparison sites like the UK‘s Foundem, whose complaint triggered the antitrust investigation.

Google has been given until September 28 to stop engaging in anti-competitive practices or it will face a staggering fine of five per cent of average daily turnover, estimated to be around $12 million (£8.9 million) a day.

The EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said it was too early to pass verdict on Googles auction proposal, but “market reactions will be one of the things that we‘ll be taking under consideration”.

Google sought feedback from around five competitors but saw a unanimously negative reaction, according to sources.

Foundem said: “Unless Google is volunteering to break up its general-and specialized-search businesses, the inclusion of Google‘s comparison shopping competitors into a new or existing pay-for-placement auction would simply create an additional anti-competitive barrier.”

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter