French antitrust watchdog slaps Google over ads

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 23:47

Paris: A French competition watchdog accused
Google on Wednesday of unfair practice by blocking a company from
advertising on its online search services.

The Competition Authority said Google had without warning
blocked the account of Navx, a provider of road travel data,
for Google`s online advertising service AdWords, and ordered
the US Internet giant to reopen it.
"The content policy of Adwords was implemented by Google
in conditions that lack objectivity and transparency and which
lead to the discriminatory treatment of providers of databases
on (roadside) speed cameras," it said in a statement.

Google`s Adwords service allows advertisers to bid for
priority in having their products flagged up next to users`
Internet searches.

Navx provides access to databases that warns drivers, via
their GPS navigation systems, where speed cameras are located
as well as providing information on service stops and fuel
prices.

Navx complained to the authority that Google had
"unilaterally suspended" its Adwords account on the grounds
that advertising for such systems was against its content
policy.

Reacting to the statement, Google acknowledged that it
had been asked to clarify the policies that determine what
advertising content it allows to accompany its search results.

It did not immediately specify why the Navx ads had
fallen foul of the content requirements.
"A final ruling remains to be issued, and we remain
confident of a positive outcome," the company`s Paris office
said in a statement sent to agency.

"The French authorities acknowledge Google`s rights to
set clear content policies to guarantee that ads are
appropriate."

Google, the world`s most popular search engine, has been
probed by US, German and Italian authorities on accusations of
abusing its dominant position and EU competition authorities
say they have also received complaints.

The French authority said most of Navx`s advertising
budget was spent on online ads, obliging it to use Adwords
since Google is used for nine out of 10 Internet searches in
France.

Navx said its revenues from online orders by individuals
fell by 70 per cent when its Adwords account was suspended,
and it was demanding compensation.

The authority said a final decision was due in the coming
months.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 23:47

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