Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President, published a blog post responding to the European Commission’s claims that Google Shopping ads harm the competition between sellers.
Walker argues that Google allows for a greater availability of choice for European consumers, offering opportunities for every business, no matter the size or reach of its market.
The European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) suggests that Google displays paid ads and specialized groups, which diverts web traffic from shopping services. According to Google, this claim lacks factual evidence and data that disproves consumers and producers being benefited from the existing model.
The EU alleges that Google’s ads are biased
Google employs traffic analysis to refute the SO’s claims with documents and data coming from the public, which in fact prove that the current search engine model used by the company is competitive at best. The main argument is that the SO did not consider the role of large retailers such as eBay and Amazon, which dominate the online markets.
The SO criticizes Google’s new Shopping Unit, which Google argues is a way of allowing customers to compare and determine what product they are looking for.
“Data from users and advertisers confirms they like these formats. That’s not “favoring” — that’s giving our customers and advertisers what they find most useful,” wrote the company on its blog.
In the end, Google is firm on its stance that the SO’s claims are wrong in the fields of law and economics. The Commission’s argument is that Google favors its own services and users by offering improved advertising, which is loosely backed by the claim that some product comparison websites argue that Google had made them lose web traffic.
Not everyone shops using Google
Customers reach the websites of retailers in different ways, among which are social media platforms, online ads, search services, retailer aggregators, and more. Another issue is that, because most of the Internet traffic is generated through mobile devices, users are always looking for the most immediate response to their query, whether it is a product or a service.
Google points out that the SO made a mistake leaving Amazon and eBay out of the picture, seeing that one-third of Germany’s online marketing starts on Amazon, where only 14 percent perform a Google search for the product. This is also true for the United States, as 55 percent of consumers start looking for the product on Amazon, while only 28 percent head to search engines and 16 percent head to independent retailers.
“The surest signs of dynamic competition in any market are low prices, abundant choices, and constant innovation – and that’s a great description of shopping on the internet today,” wrote Ken Walker on Google’s blog.