Google accused of "placing own search ads first"- report

23/01/2017

Google is using its home advantage to place ads in top position on its search results, according to a new report.

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The Wall Street Journal cited analysis by data software firm finds that search results for hardware items like phones and laptops yield ads for Google-owned products.

Typing in the search term 'phones' will likely yield ads for Google's Pixel smartphone while typing 'laptop' will show ads for Chromebook, the study, conducted by advertising data firm Semrush found.

In the study, all 1,000 search results pages for the term 'laptop' were led by links to Chromebook, a Google product.

Adverts for Google products occupied 91% of the top ad slots on the firm's search results pages, in a study done for the Wall Street Journal. Semrush analysed 25,000 pages for the study.

In response, a Google spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the firm's marketing policies were "consciously and carefully designed" so as not to intervene with ad pricing.

"All our bids are excluded from the auction when determining the price paid by other advertisers and we have strict rules and processes - set to tougher levels than our customers - to govern the use of our own ads products," he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in all 1,000 searches for the term "laptop" in the study, the top result was for Google's Chromebook.

Additionally 98% of searches for "watches" resulted in links to Android smartwatch retailers appearing on top.

The paper added that after sharing the results with Google many of the ads disappeared - and a BBC test found that other brands including Apple, Lenovo and Apollo now appear to dominate the top of results pages for these terms.

In July 2016 the European Commission alleged that Google had abused its dominance in internet shopping and restricted competition - which the firm denied.

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