Google Could Show Rivals' Logos In Search Results

Dennis Faas's picture

Google appears ready to show its rivals' logos on search results pages. It's the latest development in a game of brinksmanship being played between Google and European regulators.

The European Commission, which administers laws that apply across the continent, has been investigating claims that Google unfairly exploits its dominance of the search market.

Some of the claims relate to the way Google sells advertising on its sites and the way it "scrapes" content, such as review extracts from other sites.

The biggest issue, though, is the suggestion that Google has intentionally promoted its own sites in search rankings, even when they aren't necessarily the most relevant. (Source:

The dispute centers on results for specialist search services, such as mapping, flight booking, or shopping tools.

Google Agrees to Promote Rivals

Google had already agreed to make several changes, including giving advertisers more freedom. Most significantly it agreed to make clear when a search result was for a site it owned, and to always include at least three links to rival sites nearby.

But that wasn't enough for Google's rivals, who said such a solution missed the point. They want Google to use a purely objective system for selecting the order of search results.

Both Google and the European Commission appear keen to reach a deal. Without an agreement, the European Commission would have to decide whether to drop the case entirely and take it to court.

The result could involve Google facing a fine of up to 10 per cent of its annual revenue -- or walking away without facing any punishment and making no changes.

Google Settlement May Mean Auctioning Results Slots

Joaquin Almunia, the commissioner handling the case, says Google has made some new proposals.

For one, it's willing to dedicate more space on the results page for links to services provided by direct rivals. The firm also says it will display a prominent logo for each company next to the results. (Source:

The proposal is likely to spark further controversy, though. Why? Because Google suggests it will run an auction to decide the order of results.

That's likely to be unpopular for two reasons: first, it may mean Google winds up profiting from the settlement. Second, it may mean the results become even less objective, though Google will argue that only sites with relevant content will pay to appear in the slot.

Whatever the responses, the issue is coming to a head. Almunia says that if the proposals find favor, he expects a legally-binding settlement to be signed by the spring. If that doesn't happen, however, the Commission will be forced to initiate legal proceedings.

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