How Google's European Search Ads Could Change

Google has proposed an antitrust settlement to the European Commission that would grant competing retailers better positioning in its search results.

How Google's European Search Ads Could Change

Google could be changing its ad approach — late last week the Internet giant proposed an antitrust settlement to the European Commission that puts new rules on how it can display commercial search results in the EU.

"It forces Google to put competitive services more visibly on its own site. Google has a tremendous amount of control over the search market, because that's where everyone goes to search for things." (Via Bloomberg)

The stakes are high for Google. A settlement over potentially anti-competitive search practices could mean ducking fines as high as $5 billion.

Per the agreement with EU regulators, Google would display "alternatives" to EU visitiors alongside its own shopping results. Re/code has screenshots of the new system — competitors would enjoy better billing on its web and mobile apps, and in flight search results.

The 93-page settlement explains Google would also make its adsense and adwords products easier to implement on websites, and let retailers opt out of Google's specialized commercial search results without impacting their organic Google rankings.

But the proposed changes have yet to mollify search and market competition advocates.

Market watchdog ICOMP doesn't like that Google is still trying to ram proposals through the Commission on its own. It warned "A settlement without third party review is a massive failure."

FairSearch represents a consortium that includes Microsoft, Expedia and Nokia. It has no problem with Google publishing its proposals, "but will continue to stress the importance of market testing to demonstrate the effectiveness of these commitments to restore competition to search."

The news comes as Google navigates other legal trouble in the EU — Earlier this month French regulators made Google add a mandatory announcement to its French homepage, explaining how its unified privacy policy violated French privacy laws. (Via GigaOM)

Meanwhile, the fate of Google’s ad settlement depends on the European Commission: its members are expected to vote on the proposal in the coming months.