Google suggested holding online auctions which would allow shopping comparison services to compete for the privilege of being displayed in Google Search results more prominently than the company's own solution, sources familiar with the proposal said on Monday, adding that the firm's move is a direct response to the antitrust order issued by the European Union alongside the largest anti-competitive fine in the history of the political bloc. The offer was reportedly made to the European Commission late last month, presumably as part of the general antitrust order compliance proposal that the company was required to submit by August 29.
Sources familiar with the document compared it to a suggestion Google made three years ago in a bid to settle the then still-ongoing EU investigation into the manner in which it promoted its shopping comparison service using Google Search. The hypothetical auction mechanism would allow providers of rivaling services to bid for any "Product Listing Ads" spots in the results served by the tech giant's popular Internet search engine, whereas the current system automatically reserves the top two spots for ads promoting Google's own price comparison tool. The floor price would be set by Google who would make its own bids as part of the auction, with the starting price not including operating costs, sources said. In light of the fact that an almost identical proposal was rejected by the antitrust watchdog on the Old Continent in 2014, Google's latest suggestion is unlikely to be accepted by the European Commission which mandated the Internet giant to treat rivaling services in a manner identical to its own in its Google Search results.
The Mountain View, California-based tech company has until the end of this month to start implementing measures to comply with EU's antitrust order or face daily fines amounting to up to five percent of its revenue. European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager previously said that a preliminary review of Google's late August proposal was satisfactory but stated that its suggestions are yet to be scrutinized more closely. While the Alphabet-owned firm is currently trying to appease the antitrust officials in Europe, it also filed an official appeal to the historic $2.87 billion fine it received, hence starting what's believed to be a years-long legal battle.