The European Commission (EC) has outlined a number of improvements Google has said it will make to its search services to appease concerns over its dominance of the search market. This is the second time Google has put forward proposals this year in the long-running saga.
In April Google offered a number of concessions to the EC over concerns that it had been abusing its dominance in the search market. However, despite Google’s claims it had done "a pretty good job” with the proposals, they were given short shrift by its competitors. The EC asked the firm to reconsider its offer.
In a speech delivered on Tuesday in Brussels, vice president of the EC responsible for competition policy Joaquín Almunia said the new proposals submitted by Google at the start of September appear far more satisfactory.
"Although I cannot describe the details, I can tell you that the new proposal more appropriately addresses the need for any commitments to be able to cover future developments," he said.
"Therefore, the new proposal relates to queries entered in Google in whatever form –whether they are typed or spoken – and irrespective of the entry point or the device."
One area where improvements have been made, Almunia said, is in the visibility of links for rival services. “In my opinion, the new proposal makes these links significantly more visible. A larger space of the Google search result page is dedicated to them. Rivals have the possibility to display their logo next to the link, and there will be a dynamic text associated to each rival link to better inform the user of its content,” he said.
Another improvement will be a removal of barriers that were designed to stop advertisers running campaigns across Google and rival firms, such as Microsoft’s Bing’s search platforms.
“Google has offered to cease to impose any written or unwritten obligations that will prevent advertisers from porting and managing search advertising campaigns across Google's services and competing services,” Almunia said.
A third area noted by the Almunia relates to the ability for businesses to more easily opt out of letting Google use their content to promote services. "Google has improved the granularity of the opt-out that is offered to third-party websites. It also tightens the provision that ensures that Google cannot retaliate against websites that make use of the opt-out," he said.
Lastly, Google will remove commitments that required firms to use only Google for its advertising in search results within Europe, Almunia explained.
"Google has committed to no longer include in its agreements with publishers any provisions or impose any unwritten obligations that would require publishers to source their requirements for online search advertisements exclusively from Google in relation to queries from European Economic Area users," he said.
V3 contacted Google for its response to the changes outlined by Almunia but had received no reply at the time of publication.
The firm will be hoping the new offers receive market approval so it can move on from the issues, although it still faces other concerns over Android dominance in the mobile market.
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