As it aims to stave off further EU antitrust fines, Google has offered to auction prominent space on its shopping search service against its own bids for the same space, four people familiar with the matter said. Google’s bids would purportedly be capped to a maximum in advance.
Google is under pressure to come up with a big initiative to level the playing field in comparison shopping, but its proposal was roundly criticised by competitors as inadequate, the sources said.
EU enforcers see the antitrust case as a benchmark for investigations into other areas dominated by the US search giant such as travel and online mapping.
Google has already been fined a record €2.4 billion (US$2.9 billion) by the European Commission for favouring its own service, and could face millions of euros in fresh fines if it fails to treat rivals and its own service equally.
In its proposal submitted to the European Commission on August 29, the company said it would allow competitors to bid for any spot in its shopping section known as Product Listing Ads, the sources said.
Since then, Google has sought feedback from four to five competitors, which was overwhelmingly negative, the sources said.
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