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Why Google's Display Ad Business Drew FTC Antitrust Probe

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the sitting-in-the-corner dept.

Google 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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legal/political to english translator: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832455)

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

translation:

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

Re:legal/political to english translator: (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year ago | (#43832521)

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

( Honest FTC answer )
 

Re:legal/political to english translator: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832707)

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".

Re:legal/political to english translator: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832743)

No matter who said so, Ballmer or Jobs, but killing Google is a good thing. Google IS the new MS of the 90s.

Re:legal/political to english translator: (1)

andydread (758754) | about a year ago | (#43832947)

You sir provided no evidence of your accusation. Maybe you are some fanboi of one of their competitors.

Re:legal/political to english translator: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833165)

It just might be. I have to admit I use some products by Apple and MS while trying to avoid everything Google, but that is this way since mid-2000-ies. I also use some stuff by IBM and HP. Am I a fanboi of all of these?
Proving that Google is really the new MS is well beyond what I could do with a single post, but there are some well known facts I'd like to mention:
  - dropping XMPP server federation for Google Talk. I think many of us here recommended Google Talk to almost everyone because that was a great way to migrate to Jabber, being backed up by a well known corp which provided web-interface for it inside Gmail and other handy stuff. Now all of them are limited to Google-only contacts, how is that different from other sorts of lock-in?
  - leaving WebKit project so they could implement their own "standards" in a more efficient manner which no one else is so eager to implement
  - pushing their own stuff using google.com which is still one of the most popular web-sites second to facebook.com, they used to push Chrome like this. Now they do the same to push Google+ to people who just want to e.g. comment on YouTube. They don't really force you into it, but it's still quite pushy
There is nothing wrong with that, business is business. But I find it extremely hypocritical to do all of the above while "doing no evil" and pretending to be a friend of open source and open standards at the same time.

Re:legal/political to english translator: (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about a year ago | (#43833511)

There is nothing wrong with that, business is business. But I find it extremely hypocritical to do all of the above while "doing no evil" and pretending to be a friend of open source and open standards at the same time.

How do you manage to keep the two bits picked out bold in your mind at the same time. Doesn't it hurt?

Re:legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833693)

There is nothing wrong with that, business is business. But I find it extremely hypocritical to do all of the above while "doing no evil" and pretending to be a friend of open source and open standards at the same time.

Why didn't you make that part bold?
What I meant to say was it's way more hypocritical than MS, who at least didn't try to pretend to be your friend. Google is way worse than MS in this regard, that was the point.

Re:legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43835965)

You are a fucking joke. MS scroogled campaign is as hypocritical as it gets. A million times more than Apple or Google.

Re:legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43838161)

Sorry, I just don't see it as more hypocritical than pretending to support open standards while not giving a shit about them,

Re:legal/political to english translator: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832955)

In which Universe? The one with Microsoft being OpenSource and donating large amounts of money to OpenSource projects?

Re:legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833285)

Nope.
The fact that they spend some of the money on stuff like Python or having people like Pike on their payroll so he could develop stuff he likes doesn't make all the other stuff they do right. Hmmm right? Those are good things, but they do a lot of shit to IT in general.
Bill Gates also donates a lot of money do kids dying in Uganda or wherever. Does this make him a good person? No, he should burn in hell for all the stuff MS did. Amirite?

Re: legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833529)

I started to dislike MS in the 90s because I realized that they had a complete market lock in with an inferior OS. It was much later that I learned of their shady practices. Google today? Not at all. If you don't like Google for any reason there is a plenty of alternatives. Case closed.

Re: legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833835)

Plenty of alternatives? Like Bing? LOL.
And without server-to-server connections for Google Talk you have to use Google-account to communicate with your friends who use it. How that lock-in is any different from the one where you have to use a certain OS to run most applications?

Re: legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43835985)

Looks like xmpp is the latest bullet point in the powerpoint that Mark penn hands out to his marketing stooges at microsoft.

I've been noticing a lot of MS shills bring that up online. And the worst part is ms is a leech that's trying to pull contacts from google talk but does not reciprocate with skype.

Re: legal/political to english translator: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43836693)

And without server-to-server connections for Google Talk you have to use Google-account to communicate with your friends who use it. How that lock-in is any different from the one where you have to use a certain OS to run most applications?

Changing OSes is expensive. Most users only use one OS at a time. Accounts on a chat network are free, and everyone has as many as they need.

Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking search (4, Interesting)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | about a year ago | (#43832607)

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

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832675)

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

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833597)

I guess they've fixed it already...

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#43834193)

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 they're just paying themselves to place the self-ad. But they do actually lose money from a self-ad since they're giving up the potential revenue from that advertising space. And all the other self-advertising I described above does the same thing - where's the FTC investigation of those practices?

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43834399)

Um, because they're leveraging their search engine to give preferential placement to their other products (aka leveraging a dominant position in one industry to gain an advantage in another, think of it as Microsoft using their dominant position in the OS market to gain an advantage in the browser market by bundling IE with Windows)?

Whether we're paying them for their service or not is entirely besides the point. Seriously, put your fanboyism aside for a moment and at least TRY to look at this objectively.

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year ago | (#43835429)

Their ad is below the other two paid-for credit card ads on the page, so they aren't giving preferential treatment to their ad in that way. Sponsored ads always appear above regular search results, too, so there's nothing preferential about Google's ad being above the search results.

Perhaps YOU should try to look at it objectively.

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43838813)

I don't see the problem.

They're representing advertising propaganda (their own and others) as third party information (information supposedly objectively chosen to be useful to the user). That's fraud and the people responsible should be punished.

Re:Google's sponsored 'adverts' are hijacking sear (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43836387)

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. And their purchase of doubleclick and the bundling of their products may in fact constitute such abuse of monopoly powers.

Does that mean (2)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#43832633)

'We have not heard anything from the FTC regarding any new antitrust investigation.'"

Does that mean the investigation was already underway?

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832767)

Yes, probably the same one mentioned in the first sentence of the fucking summary.

Re:Does that mean (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#43833007)

Sorry, I was thinking that other readers would try thinking just a little harder. So to reframe so anonymous posters can understand it more clearly: Was, before this investigation, an investigation underway, thereby making the investigation not new to Google, but in fact, an investigation already underway?

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43833885)

Yes, probably the same one mentioned in the 1st sentence of the fucking summary.

Re:Does that mean (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#43834227)

Thank you for making my point more eloquently than I did.

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43835627)

Yes, probably the one mentioned in the first sentence of the fucking summary.

Re:Does that mean (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#43835799)

There you go... Written with all the eloquence, intelligence and creativity I knew you had.

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43836025)

Yes, probably the one mentioned in the 1st sentence of the fucking summary.

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43842549)

I'd question the intelligence of someone who cannot parse that sentence before questioning trolls on this site.

- T.K.

Re:Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43936709)

If you don't get it yet, idiot, you never will. No matter how creative I am explaining things to a 5 year old, he's just incapable of comprehending them.

Let Me Bing That For You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832699)

http://letmebingthatforyou.com/?q=microsoft

Re:Let Me Bing That For You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832821)

This site is not affiliated with Microsoft!

Re:Let Me Bing That For You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43838167)

Yes it is.

Until they are a monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832723)

They can run their AD business as they please.

"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43832815)

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.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

kllrnohj (2626947) | about a year ago | (#43832925)

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.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#43834283)

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.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43835603)

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.

It's worth nothing I think. It doesn't matter who reports foul play, if there is something going on it needs to be investigated and stopped. Who reported it is irrelevant.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43836729)

It's worth nothing I think. It doesn't matter who reports foul play, if there is something going on it needs to be investigated and stopped. Who reported it is irrelevant.

It is relevant in estimating the likelihood that wrongdoing actually occurred. If the complaint was submitted by a competitor as a way to force a company to waste its lawyer's time and drum up bad publicity, then the odds are they just made shit up.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43834391)

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

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43835165)

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.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43835843)

There can be and is no practice of "random selection" for investigation.

Re:"The FTC and the Justice Department don't..." (1)

kllrnohj (2626947) | about a year ago | (#43842143)

"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.

Beltway Shakedown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43832823)

It's Washington's way of saying "You're not giving enough money to influential congresscritters' campaigns". And, "Nice ad business ya got there. Shame if some legislation happened to it."

editors: afaict jahard did not write that (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43835011)

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.

I've been waiting for this (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43835575)

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.

http://searchengineland.com/a-letter-to-the-ftc-regarding-search-engine-disclosure-124169

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