Google Offers to Auction off Shopping Ad Spaces to Rivals

By Natalia Drozdiak Features Dow Jones Newswires

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has proposed overhauling its shopping search results so that rivals can bid for space to display products for sale, as part of the tech giant's efforts to comply with a European Union's antitrust order, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Under the proposal, Google would bid against rivals to display products for sale in the space above its general search results, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Google would set itself a price cap that it wouldn't be able to bid above, but competitors could if they wished.

The European Commission fined Google a record EUR2.42 billion ($2.89 billion) in June for discriminating against rival comparison-shopping sites in its search ranking. The regulator ordered the company to revamp its search results by late September so that it treated its competitors' offerings and its own shopping service equally.

Google submitted a plan to the EU in August that sketched out how it would amend its search results to comply, but declined to provide more details at the time.

A Google spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday.

The proposal is similar to one made by Google several years ago as part of settlement talks with the previous EU antitrust chief, Joaquín Almunia. Those talks crumbled under pressure from complainants and politicians in France and Germany, paving the way for EU regulators to fine the company and command changes as part of that decision.

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Reuters was the first to report the details of the proposed remedies.

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2017 10:15 ET (14:15 GMT)