Search Engine Experts Tell Staffers If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

BY Heather Greenfield
September 21, 2011

Top experts on search engines told Capitol Hill staffers at an event organized by CCIA Tuesday that there is healthy competition among search engines.
Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land, a website that reports on the online search market, said that it has never been unusual for businesses or advertisers to complain about where they come up in search results. What is new here he said is that businesses are arguing that their low rankings are an antitrust issue for the government to fix.
The panel discussion comes a day ahead of a senate antitrust hearing about whether Google is using its position as the leader in search to harm competitors.
Sullivan said if Google really wanted to harm competitors, users would not be able to easily find Google’s real competitors like Facebook, Bing and Yahoo during a Google search.
Google is sending more traffic out to other sites than the percentage of traffic it initially receives, Sullivan said.
George Michie, CEO of the Rimm-Kaufman Group, which helps businesses improve their search rankings, agreed. “The people screaming the loudest about Google’s unfairness are companies whose only reason for existence is gaming the system.”
The panelists explained how search used to be predominantly paid results, but Google gained customers by designing an algorithm that examined where customers actually clicked to find relevant information.
“We rely on search engines to make editorial judgments rather than deliver just a bunch of spam filled key words,” New York Law professor James Grimmelmann and author of “Search Engine Law” said.
While Google is a big company which arguably has influence in how it organizes search results, Grimmelmann said there is no correct way to organize the Internet.
Grimmelmann agreed there could be antitrust issues at some point down the road “if there was a real shakedown” of advertisers by Google. Michie agreed saying that advertisers and businesses bid in a real time auction and as long as that is the system, most companies see that as fair.
To view the webcast of this pane discussion, go to: http://bit.ly/nlaC4z

Related Articles

CCIA Responds to Public Consultation on EU Proposal for a New Competition Tool

Sep 8, 2020

Brussels, BELGIUM –The Computer & Communications Industry Association offered comments on the European Commission’s public consultation on the forthcoming proposals for a new complementary tool to strengthen competition enforcement (“NCT”) today. The consultation questions cover a wide range of issues around perceived gaps in the current EU competition rules, particularly those related to what are…

CCIA Expresses Disappointment In Flawed 9th Circuit Qualcomm Decision

Aug 11, 2020

Washington — The 9th Circuit today overturned a district court decision by Judge Lucy Koh, holding that Qualcomm had not violated the antitrust laws by refusing to license competitors in violation of its contractual obligation to do so, by refusing to sell chips unless the customer first took a patent license, and by engaging in…

CCIA Reacts To UK Competition and Market Authority’s Final Report On Online Platforms And Digital Advertising

Jul 1, 2020

Brussels, BELGIUM — The UK Competition and Markets Authority today published its final report on online platforms and digital advertising. The CMA’s recommendations would grant far-reaching powers to a new digital regulator to impose company-specific regulations, force product design changes, redistribute assets, and order the breakup of platforms. The Computer & Communications Industry Association encourages…