Search engine giant, Google, is currently being slammed with another hefty fine by the European Union (EU), this time for anti-competition activities. This new fine is to the tune of a whopping N613.1 billion (€1.49 billion).
The new fine stemmed from the company’s activities which affected other online search advertisers. Google was found guilty of forcing third-party sites using its AdSense network to implement their own searches to adhere to exclusivity contracts. This coercion is said to have occurred between 2006 and 2016.
Using this dominance, market competitors like Microsoft or Yahoo are being prevented from placing their search adverts on such sites.
Also in 2009, the company implemented a kind of ‘relaxed exclusivity’ contract which allowed third-party sites to host search adverts from market competitors, although Google ads were still to be placed in the most popular parts of the page.
This ‘relaxed-exclusivity’ also demanded that sites seek written approval from Google before making any changes to how competitors’ ads were displayed, thus granting it a great deal of power over its rivals’ products in order to ensure that its own adverts remained the most lucrative.
During this period the industry giant was able to maintain dominance over the online advertising space as Google accounted for more than 70% of the market in the EU, and even held a staggering 90% of the market for general search in other countries.
Such activities by the search giant is a form of market control which is illegal under European Union anti-trust rules hence, the N613.1 billion (€1.49 billion) by the European Union.
“Google is fined €1,49bn for illegal practices in search advertising brokering to cement its dominant market position. They shouldn’t do that – it denied consumers choice, innovative products and fair prices.”Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition.
It is believed that he fine by the European Union will forced Google to adjust and change its AdSense contracts with third parties, giving them more leeway to display search ads from market competitors.
This latest penalty by the EU is the search and adverrt giant’s third fine in 3 years. It had previously received a N988 billion (€2.42 billion) fine in 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites and N1.7 trillion (€4.34 billion) last year for imposing its apps on phones running the Android Operating system.