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Google Shopping Search Criticised By Rivals: Open Letter to E.U. Commissioner

     
3:50 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A letter to the E.U.'s Competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, from 14 European comparison shopping services has criticised Google over its Shopping search advertising, which was opened up last year, following a massive fine, to allow competitors to run ads.
Google fined $2.7 Billion by EU commission [webmasterworld.com]

The criticism is specific in that it feels the system is weighed in favour of Google as it doesn't have to bid for its own shopping ads, whereas the competitors do.
[bbc.co.uk...]
[searchneutrality.org...]

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4:31 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm always conflicted when seeing these stories.

On the one hand it is fun watching google get slapped around a little bit...

On the other, regulation scares me. It's a slippery slope. Having the government tell google that they have to promote their competition on their website is only fun till the government comes to tell you to promote your competition on your website.
5:15 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I somewhat agree - regulation often causes more problems.

Remember the "cookie law."
5:27 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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regulation often causes more problems

Or more precisely, those elaborating the regulations, are often causing more problems than solutions.

Regulators are loosely knowing the subject they are working on and have a simplistic approach of the question, so they rely on "experts", who can be more or less involved in this domain, and who can also have a biased approach of the problem, (for not saying being influenced by lobbies).

Once all this is cooked , the draft is then refined by EU parliament, meaning people who have no knowledge at all about the subject, before they finally vote.
6:53 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The history of the legislation is bad (cookie law, VATMOSS, flaws in GDPR, etc.) but the competition regulators have a better track record.

We also cannot realistically do without competition regulation or we will wind up with an economy run by cartels. Its bad enough already with regulators and legislation that has not really caught up with how technology works (lots of network effect, lots of gatekeeping).

The problems occur when politicians draft specific regulation rather than drafting general regulations that are then enforced by an independent regulator. The latter is not perfect, but works a lot better than pinning down everything in legislation.
3:28 pm on Nov 26, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Corporations are no benevolent operators. Their legitimate objective is to maximize shareholder value. Fair enough. Now enters Greed. An altogether different narrative. Schemes & machinations aimed at abusing market dominance, undermining competition, killing innovation, exacerbating social inequality. White collar crime.

In this narrative of Greed, total lack of self-restraint and breaking existing laws & social norms, regulation despite inherent clumsiness and imperfection, is the sole effective & essential remedy against abusive schemes & machinations. What we witness at this time is criminal negligence by the authorities vested by societies with their protection. Stinks of Collusion, to use a currently favourite term.
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9:16 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The solution regarding search (gate to internet) is obvious and has been suggested long ago. Separation of data indexing and search presentation. Web indexing performed by a central entity, or even multiple central entities, search results provided by multiple independent competing search engines.

This is the successful model of energy (electricity) distribution in most European countries, for a long time already. This is also the successful model of communications distribution (phone/internet) in most European countries, for a long time already. A well tried model that has no reason to fail on the web. This is the future of search. The sooner, the better.
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9:41 pm on Nov 27, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Agreed on many of your comments, regulations aren't always good for the consumer ... however...

Corporations must obey LAWS. Google has broken so many laws someone should start a website to document all of their misbehavour.

And yes they have been fined for some which is a good start by the EU. Where is the US? crickets chirping..

Google will throw their riches at lawyers to keep us, the irritated website operators at bay.

So how do we keep Google from misbehaving? Their is only one way. Government regulations.

Lets start with this simple little restraint of trade violation that you all know I love to bring up: Google should be told by regulators that they are going to be slapped with a $1.00 fine for every website they restrict from linking with each other. Multiply that by every website that exists on the web and maybe that will get them to pay attention.

Microsoft has never told website operators who they can and cannot link to. Now that Google has gotten away with this since 2008, where to start to tame this massive beast? Regulations is the only way my friends.. for those of you (like me) who favor as little government as possible, its the only way. Otherwise this unfair playing field in which we work in every day where we must do as we are told by Google will continue to run like a California wildfire.. if only those wildfires would make it to Google's campus.
9:08 pm on Nov 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The sad fact that only 6 members in a Webmaster Forum demonstrated any interest in the burning topic of barriers of legitimately promoting & monetizing web sites shows people expect progress without a struggle and personal involvement, divine intervention somewhere from heaven. Progress, liberty and rights have a cost, need personal involvement and nothing comes from nothing. Getting eternally consumed and obsessed with site minutiae is just missing the forest for the trees. And allows the likes of Google to thrive on the stupidity of others.
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9:53 pm on Nov 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@heisje .. my sentiments exactly. I don't care if Google is a major contributor to PUBCON. The focus of the next Pubcon should be bringing this 800 pound gorilla into the center of every conference hall.

Where are the rest of you on this topic? have you resigned your fate that you will do as you are told by a monopoly? If every website operator filed a formal complaint with the FTC, that would be a start.

[ftc.gov...]
11:47 pm on Nov 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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resigned your fate that you will do as you are told by a monopoly?

I prefer to determine my own fate and not beg google to send me free traffic or beg the gov to make google send me free traffic.

Be very careful what you ask the gov to do on your behalf... someone, someday may decide to ask the gov to do for them to you.
1:09 am on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Imagine what would happen to the world's water if people shared your view on life.
1:18 am on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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google = water... it's official, the WebmasterWorld conversation has "jumped the shark"...
1:40 am on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Some people are unable to keep a discussion at a constructive level. It is far from necessary that everybody share the same opinion and be in agreement, however it is essential to be constructive. Hopefully we are beyond the kindergarten playground level in this professional forum.

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3:02 pm on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The point is government is the ONLY thing that keeps profit bound corporations in check. Too much government intervention? Oh so it's a set amount of interventions per year. Once that limit is reached, go have at 'er corporations. Do as you please. I've never really considered government doing things on my behalf. Maybe take for granted their oversight so crap doesn't run rampant? Sounds about right. If you don't know the issues around "water" in some areas of the world then I suppose that's the case in point.
3:39 pm on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The point here is that some want the government to force a business/website to send another business/website customers for free. That's peachy-keen until it's done to you.
4:08 pm on Nov 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Another point to make here is there are some some low level violations that are slap on the wrist enforceable and then you got the mega illegal law breakers such as Google violating common law doctrine restraint of trade. That's jailable and yet the FTC does nothing (for now). And its not an accusation. Google freely admits to it in their "webmaster guidelines".
2:43 am on Dec 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What we've got here is failure to communicate [webmasterworld.com ]

Viewing Google as a mere business/website is in denial of reality and common sense. I wonder why we are compelled constantly, ad infinitum & ad nauseam to explain the obvious, that Google is anything than a mere business/website.

Rather than a mere business/website Google is a huge essential service, the gate to the internet, an essential utility affecting billions of people globally and modern society in all facets of life - all this power vested in the hands of an unconstrained corporation governed by a handful of unelected individuals at their absolute discretion, whim and interest while in breach of an array of state and ethical laws, including abuse of monopoly dominant position and tax manipulation in billions.

Some kind of business/website . . . .
Please direct me to an appropriate web designer to build me one.
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2:54 am on Dec 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And Heisje the worst part of it is that Google says if we link our sites to each other (without nofollow), that’s violating their guidelines.

Since when was Google given the rights to create and enforce federal law? With their directive, they are actually violating federal laws and yes WebmasterWorld mods it’s right there in their “webmaster guidelines”.

A new generation of webmasters needs to know this and act on it.

Is anyone else paying attn to this basic restraint of trade - or have most of u been tuned out by your smartphones?
7:13 pm on Dec 1, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A number of our fellow webmasters have not been convinced of the necessity of regulating the search environment for the purpose of rendering it more accessible to the average competing site owner and narrowing the huge gap between opportunities available to massive corporations and smaller entities.

I don't blame them. Too often well-meaning regulation intended to advance competition and innovation has done little else than introduce tedious bureaucratic constrains diminishing productivity and stifling innovation. In principle I am much against regulation myself, except in extreme situations where measures of last resort are called. In particular where large monopolistic corporations operating in fields of major impact to society abuse their dominant position in multiple ways as a matter of daily operations, year in year out. Such as Google, culpable in every single search sector they operate.

We need to convince our fellow webmasters that in the case of Google measures of last resort must be taken to liberate the web from practices that have walled out over 95% of potential new contributors - as it is no longer possible even to recover the substantial costs required to create worthy new web sites (commercial or informational) because of lack of meaningful & affordable exposure.

We need to convince & co-opt the current nay-sayers by polite explanation & argument - while refraining from treating them like obstinate, dogmatic, ignorant, unyielding birdbrained fools
(oh dear . . . .).

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3:33 pm on Dec 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Well, duh, of course anything Google does (or any dominant player does) is going to be criticized by its rivals, especially if those rivals think they can get the government to do their work for them.
10:47 pm on Dec 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@editorialguy ".. anything Google does (or any dominant player does) is going to be criticized by its rivals, especially if those rivals think they can get the government to do their work for them."

You miss the point .. Google is violating dozens of US and EU Restraint of Trade and Anti-Trust laws.. so far they are getting away with it in the US. Its killing small and medium size (even some large) businesses because they either have to advertise on G or forget about any organic traffic since page 1 is now almost all Google content. Since you can't link (without nofollow and its complications) with your common target market, that option of alternate referral traffic is out.

Google is getting away with the murder of millions of businesses.
 

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