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Google Advertising Government United States

Why Google's Display Ad Business Drew FTC Antitrust Probe 50

First time accepted submitter jahard writes "It's not clear yet whether the preliminary look will result in anything more. The FTC and the Justice Department don't investigate behemoths like Google on a lark, so there's at least a decent chance they'll find reason to look deeper. But according to several online ad sources, the evidence is mixed, and some–even at least one competitor–say Google is playing fair with its so-called 'stack' of ad technologies. Contacted for comment, Google provided only a terse statement: 'We have not heard anything from the FTC regarding any new antitrust investigation.'"
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Why Google's Display Ad Business Drew FTC Antitrust Probe

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "we are opening an investigation into your business practices subject to section 123 subsection 456 of the xyz act"


    "your competitors are bigger donors and don't like you!"

    • Microsoft. My political sponsor. Doesn't like you.

      ( Honest FTC answer )

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bing! Bing! Bing!

        We have a winner!

        That's what it's all about folks. Just one more step in Ballmer's promise "I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again, I'm going to f---ing kill Google".

  • by Idimmu Xul ( 204345 ) on Monday May 27, 2013 @10:49AM (#43832607) Homepage Journal

    Searching for terms like mastercard [google.co.uk] now shows google's own mastercard comparison site [google.co.uk] at the start as a sponsored link.

    I've seen this on several other search terms too, they're starting to become a content provider rather than a search engine

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not here. But it's kinda cool, didn't know about that. And that's a fine line between content provider and search engine... content is information, and the result of a search is information too, no?

      But I'm a Lisp programmer, so I think data and source code is the same if you put the parentheses in the right places. :D

    • I don't see the problem. Why shouldn't they be allowed to advertise in their own products? TV stations advertise shows they'll be broadcasting. Newspapers advertise a phone number you can call to subscribe. Magazines include those annoying little cards you can fill out to subscribe. Movies in the theater and DVD/Bluray include trailers for upcoming movies. The bike I just bought included a little brochure of accessories I can buy.

      You could argue that they aren't really paying for their ads since th
    • That is a problem if they prioritize their own results above legitimate search results and if they effectively blackmail the owners of the search terms into paying to be listed at an appropriately high level. Oh wait, they already do that with adwords and threatening to allow competitors to buy keywords for your own unique business. They keep trying to create gold-rushes and make sure that Google is the only territory in which the gold-rushes occur.

      That may, in fact, be inappropriate use of a monopoly. A

  • by homey of my owney ( 975234 ) on Monday May 27, 2013 @10:54AM (#43832633)
    'We have not heard anything from the FTC regarding any new antitrust investigation.'"

    Does that mean the investigation was already underway?
  • Yes they do. And so does the IRS. At this moment in time, once the corruption of one section of government has been demonstrated, they should all be examined. The days of "presumed righteous" government is and should be ended.

    The fact is, the nation was founded on the principle that government itself is not above scrutiny and can not and should not be presumed righteous. Why else would the constitution have been written the way it was?

    But all these religious minded people with their "faith" want to transfer it all to government as if they are a superior entity and not a colleciton of humans with interests and pursuits of their own. It is completely absurd on its face and yet people are still standing in line.

    • Ignoring your random anti-government corruption rant, you're correct that the FTC & IRS very much do investigate large companies randomly. Why? Because that's their fucking job. Although the IRS randomly audits everyone, not just large companies. And the only way for the FTC to enforce the laws is to randomly investigate whether or not people are following them. Once you get big enough, the FTC *will* investigate to make sure you got big by playing fair and that you aren't abusing your bigness.

      • And from the article, it was an un-named rival in the ad space that spurred the investigation. The article also specifically said that Microsoft was not a party asking for the investigation. For what all that's worth, of course, but I see no need to look behind the curtain when what's on stage is clear enough.

      • Do you know what "probable cause" means? It's in the US Constitution. Read it.

        • The 4th amendment only applies to people. And at the time of writing it, the legal nonsense that "corporations are people" hadn't been dreamt up yet.

          So no the constitution does not protect corporations with a "probable cause" condition. Only later case law might possibly do that. Or not.

        • "probably cause" is the grounds needed to make an arrest, conduct a personal or property search, or obtain a warrant.

          There is *nothing* about needing probable cause to start an investigation. And that would be completely idiotic anyway. How can you get probably cause without investigating? Investigation *results in* probable cause which *results in* more investigation.

  • I think someone erred and the first line should read something like "Forbes journalists writes..." rather than "jahard writes". Unless of course user jahard is the same person as the Forbes reporter, in which case disregard. But being the penultimate Google "Hater", I figured I'd take the time to spill some of that deserved hate on /., if appropriate.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've thought for a long time google isn't following the law with regard to how clearly advertisements have to be marked.

    A yellow box barely visible on a cheap LCD, and some tiny text "ads" isn't good enough to pass muster under my interpretation of advertising law.

    12 months ago this article was published on search engine land:

    In 2002, the US Federal Trade Commission created guidelines on how search engines should disclose paid placement and paid inclusion listings. It’s become clear to me over the past two weeks that the search engine industry has either largely forgotten these guidelines or is ignoring them. That’s why I’ve written a letter today to the FTC asking that the agency conduct a compliance review, as well as a review to see if its guidelines should be updated. My letter is below.


"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990