How Google Rigs Search And Hurts Consumers

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I’m sure all of you heard about the $2.7 billion fine imposed by the EU on Google as a result of its anti-competitive behavior, but not many of you probably know exactly what the search giant did to earn it. To shine some light on the topic, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from a recent article written by Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback.

Below are some choice excerpts from the piece, You Should Be Outraged at Google’s Anti-Competitive Behavior:

Before 2007, if a user searched for a product on Google, other sites listing prices for that product would appear among the general search results, ranked in the order of their quality to users. These “comparison shopping sites” were designed to identify merchants with the lowest prices. The more accurate and comprehensive their results, the higher they were ranked and the more traffic they generated.

 

But the more successful that comparison shopping sites became, the more they threatened Google’s business plan. Google makes money by selling ads placed next to its free search results, and merchants could not be expected to bid for ad placement if the listings in comparison shopping sites on the same search undercut their prices.

 

To address this, Google developed a cunning plan, the first phase of which was documented in a report by the FTC. Portions of the report were published by the Wall Street Journal more than two years ago.

 

Quoting internal Google documents and emails, the report shows that the company created a list of rival comparison shopping sites that it would artificially lower in the general search results, even though tests showed that Google users “liked the quality of the [rival] sites” and gave negative feedback on the proposed changes.

 

Google reworked its search algorithm at least four times, the documents show, and altered its established rating criteria before the proposed changes received “slightly positive” user feedback. Internal Google documents predicted that the proposed changes would reduce rivals’ user traffic up to 20 percent and subsequently reported producing the desired results once the changes were implemented.

 

At the same time, Google started putting the results from its own comparison shopping service at the top of search results. After these changes, the only source of low-price information readily available on Google’s search platform came from Google’s own comparison shopping service, known at the time as Google Product Search, which listed the lowest prices for products in its database at no charge to merchants.

 

Google’s conduct certainly hurt its rivals, particularly after a second round of search-listing demotions documented by the European Union. Many companies have been forced to lay off all of their employees and even shut down operations.

 

In 2012, Google took the extraordinary step to kill Google Product Search, replacing it with Google Shopping. This new service did not display the lowest price (or even a low price) in the general search results; rather, it displayed ads at the top of the search results page in response to the user’s search term. The ads were carefully placed by Google’s algorithms to minimize price competition among merchants, by, for example, showing ads next to each other that featured different product models at different price points.

 

Google Shopping also permitted merchants to purchase ads on a separate shopping page. Merchants — no longer promoted in search results for having lower prices — now must pay for better placement. Not surprisingly, they have raised prices to cover these costs.

 

Google’s competitors argued in a study, which I submitted to the European Commission a few years ago, that the prices in Google Shopping ads for specified products on search results pages were among the highest in Google’s database. Google’s displayed prices for everyday products, such as watches, anti-wrinkle cream and wireless routers, were roughly 50 percent higher — sometimes more — than those on rival sites. A subsequent study by a consumer protection group found similar results. A study by the Financial Times also documented the higher prices.

 

The Post’s editorial board claimed that the online availability of large merchant sites might restrain Google’s power over consumers. But those sites haven’t stopped Google from executing its plan so far. There is no denying that Google eliminated services showing the lowest prices, free to merchants, and replaced them with high-priced ads.

Some people like to blame all of the world’s problems on government.

Others blame business for everything that ever goes wrong.

I don’t fall into either of these categories. I think the greatest threat to humanity, freedom and our overall happiness comes down to concentrations of power.

Too much concentration of power within business or government ultimately leads to tyranny and oppression, and the best solution is for all of us to fight against concentrations of power in all its manifestations. Personally, I think Google has far too much power in a service as important to modern life as search, and it seems executives there are doing what always happens with concentrated power — abusing their position.

Comments

fannyplucker Jul 8, 2017 10:54 AM Permalink

Beware of facebook as well. Google started cannibalizing  popular verticals like travel, health and even dictionary by stealing clicks to content providers. Regulators are behind the curve here

FreeNewEnergy Jul 8, 2017 9:31 AM Permalink

Google has fucked me hard for some time. Too long to explain, but let's just say I'm not a mainstream publisher and I do make money from their AdSense program. Stopped using them for search at least five years ago.I use Bing. Yes, Bing. They have a rewards program and I've bought some useful stuff off Amazon (part of the rewards) with those points. Last year, I cashed in over $50 worth of Amazon rewards. It's not much, but I earn every time I search. Kind of offests the money Google is scamming from me, using MY WEBSITE in their search results, for FREE.Fuck Google until its dead. Then fuck Google some more to make sure it stays dead. Totally evil company from top to bottom.

Doug Eberhardt Jul 8, 2017 8:27 AM Permalink

If the next book I write is called "Fuck Google," will they steal it from me too and put excerpts from it on the net for everyone to read?Hmmm, seems like a good expirement to me. I will post it on Kindle and charge $0.00 and have 50 pages of two words; Fuck Google! Fuck Google! Fuck Google! Fuck Google!...Good thing I bought the 10 ISBN #'s. I'm going to do it this week. Free speech and all. And if you all give it 5 star's after buying a "free" copy, maybe we can get it to #1 on Amazon!  

LA_Goldbug Jul 8, 2017 5:09 AM Permalink

"Google reworked its search algorithm at least X times on ..."
Thus you can never be sure how meaningful the Google search search results are. Competition could ensure this but the competition is not as strong for my liking, IMHO.

sinbad2 Jul 8, 2017 4:51 AM Permalink

Another thing that Google does, is steal your bandwith, all their tracking means you are constantly sending data back to Google, you pay for that data.Not a bad racket, spying on people and making them pay for it.

LoveTruth Jul 8, 2017 2:18 AM Permalink

I opened an email account with yandex.com. Google is getting too much personal info from me. If you type in neger in the search engine, some day in the future the government may come after you for being racist, because you used that word with racist intentions. I use yandex.com for searches too. 

Faeriedust Jul 7, 2017 11:04 PM Permalink

I see the point, but frankly, I'm just as happy not to have my searches cluttered up with the old comparison sites.  They drove me bonkers, to the point of spending extra time listing their names as (-) in the search string so that they wouldn't show up at all!  For one thing, most of my searches have nothing to do with shopping, so showing six shopping-comparison sites before ANY sites that might actually be what I was looking for was really irritating.  And secondly, they were bad.  They were free, and you got what you paid for.  Same with the Google offers at the top of the page.  But the new format is easier to discount and completely ignore.

pigpen Jul 7, 2017 10:59 PM Permalink

Everybody should want to work to destroy the duopoly of Goobook. Use adblocker and anti tracking at all times. Brave browser and ublock origin. If you must use social apps run them from the browser even YouTube.
Kill digital advertising and revalue your dwindling attention span.
Cheers,
Pigpen

milking institute Jul 7, 2017 9:45 PM Permalink

Google,the evil empire of this century with their little hangons amazon,fuckerberg etc. the self elected new gods that want to control your life and money,may they burn in hell. who in the world is clamoring for a self driving car? the answer is NOBODY. who wants to be surveiled by their television,NOBODY. ok,this is my last rant as tomorrow i have an appointment with the state security office to get my chip implanted. they told me it was for my own good and would help me deal with my anger issues. they said i could still post on message boards 'n stuff after the "procedure" and even more people would "like" me on facebook. i sure hope so,i really want to be cool.....

Merica101 Jul 7, 2017 9:29 PM Permalink

Yes, concentration of power has always been a bad thing in most instances (there have been exceptions). "Absolute power, corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton.  Just think of Tesla  - he didn't profit from his genius - Edison and others did. Hell, Hollywood has a history of screwing over their intellectual giants as well.  The writer of Forrest Gump got totally screwed when he signed his movie deal...refused to ever work with them again. The lawyers got involved - and everybody ended up worse in the long run. The writer, Hollywood and the consumer - short sighted profits versus longer term gains...no sequels.http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/25/movies/gump-a-huge-hit-still-isn-t-ra…

Faeriedust Merica101 Jul 7, 2017 11:11 PM Permalink

Standard advisory:  Power does NOT corrupt.  Power REVEALS existing corruption and enables it to corrode previously unaffected areas.  Like molten metal poured into a cracked crucible, power exposes and stresses the hidden fractures of mind and soul. Take it from an experienced mage.  Saints can move mountains without stubbing their toes.  The average human can't lift a Volkswagen without breaking his back.  Power doesn't corrupt.  The pure soul can directly manifest the power of a God without harm.  Not too many pure souls around, though. 

In reply to by Merica101

NaturalOnly Jul 7, 2017 9:10 PM Permalink

I hope Amazon is next. Although I like them as a customer, I set up an Amazon seller account and found out that even if I have the lowest price for the item, my product will not show up in the "buy box" which is the box on the right side that you click on to add to your cart. You might be looking for something and see it at $200, I am selling it at $99, but Amazon will not put my product out there for people to see. Most people do not look for other options, they assume Amazon is showing the cheapest option. When I asked them they said that I have to pay $40 a month to have a professional seller account, and even then I would not be guaranteed to be in the buy box, at the lowest price. They have a mysterious algorithm that determines how reliable you are as a seller.I'm done with them. They take 15% plus $3 of each item you sell. It is half their business. They treat their sellers like crap.

Shpedly NaturalOnly Jul 7, 2017 9:39 PM Permalink

Amazon is the frigging worst for selling or buying. I never use it, period. Same goes for Google product search. People will laugh but Ebay is still a very level playing field for the buyer. If your looking for the lowest price on anything, it's the best place to look. If it's for sale anywhere on the planet, it's on Ebay. I've bought appliances, entire home HVAC units, shop tools. You name it.

In reply to by NaturalOnly

boiow Jul 7, 2017 9:10 PM Permalink

google is a private company,  not a public library. Power corrupts and so obviously google are corupt.  I use Gibiru.  until they become corrupt ,then i will change,  simple.

kareninca Jul 7, 2017 8:48 PM Permalink

Once in a while I like to go to 4Chan.  I typically use DuckDuckGo.  I just tried it today  -  it wouldn't take me there.  Then I tried Google Search.  It also wouldn't take me there.  The most they would do were articles about 4Chan.  So I tried Dogpile; that worked perfectly.  Using these search engines is like consulting a dictionary that is missing words.  It is censorship, of course.

skinwalker Jul 7, 2017 8:38 PM Permalink

It's not just product placement.

Google only lets you see what they want you to see. Any peice of information that doesn't fit their worldview is hidden.

I rank google as the most evil company in the world, even more than Monsanto or Betchel.

I personally use no google products, and if their self driving cars take over I guess it's back to the bike for me.

Google needs to be dissolved and its executives used as test subjects for weaponized STD research.

truthalwayswinsout Jul 7, 2017 8:18 PM Permalink

Wake up people.Google is solely responsible for the massive fall off in small business formation. They automatically ban people in searh results from areas they know are conservative. They also ban convervative websites in search and in their business endeavors. They recently screwed Inforwars out of $5 million a year in business.... they do this all the time to much smaller companies. .They are responsible for the shit storm you have been experienced in life for at least the past 10 years. People have crap jobs because the formation of small business is just about dead. You cannot start a small business unless you have $20K per month to scam google search results and get on the front page.  Even then you are not going to be there long enough to build a business and a brand. The only thing that has saved small business is Amazon who knows that Google is doing and has taken a large number of small businesses into their marketplace but they also know the businesses have no choice so they treat them like slaves and dog shit.Unless this ends, the U.S. as we know it is finished.