Moving Forward

Monday, November 25, 2013 | 4:00 PM

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For the past two years we’ve worked closely with the European Commission to settle their inquiry into our search and advertising businesses. We’ve put a lot of effort into addressing the Commission’s concerns, and earlier this year, after a good bit of back-and-forth with the Commission, we proposed a package of measures that the Commission felt comfortable testing in the marketplace.

The Commission subsequently asked us to go even further, including giving rival sites much more visibility in our search results. (The Commission has since confirmed that it seeks to promote visibility rather than to mandate where consumers click.) We addressed these requests with our revised offer, which broadens the scope of our offer and provides links to rival sites even more prominently in our search results. Specifically:

  • We will give links to rival sites much more real estate and visibility
  • We will include rival sites’ logos with these links for even greater prominence
  • We will accompany these links with dynamic text from rivals providing more information about their sites
This news was widely reported in the press and you can see screenshots of these proposed links here.

As European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia said in a recent speech, the issue is choice for consumers. We've worked closely with a knowledgeable and professional team at the Commission to deliver just that. Users will be presented with alternative specialized search options right in the middle of some of the most valuable and prominent space on our search page. It is hard to see how anybody could reasonably claim that this will not offer users choice.

These weren’t easy concessions to make. Within Google, many asked why we would agree to such unprecedented and far-reaching changes to our continuously evolving search results. But we didn’t want to spend a decade fighting over these issues. We wanted to move forward, letting our engineers continue to do what they do best: building products that help users in their everyday lives.

Of course, we will never satisfy some critics, especially those with a professional and financial interest in impeding a successful competitor rather than helping users. As Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Some in the anti-Google camp have lobbied for remedies that would help themselves at a cost to consumers. Others have worked to prolong the process to keep us in regulatory limbo, filing new complaints timed to disrupt our settlement negotiations. These complainants continue to recycle claims with no basis in law or fact, while failing to present constructive or realistic suggestions that would benefit consumers.

We’ve gone the extra mile to come up with a settlement that will resolve the Commission’s expressed concerns and allow everyone to focus on competing on the merits and creating innovative new services for consumers. We look forward to bringing this matter to a sound and reasonable conclusion.

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