As part of its antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices, which’s mainly due to complaints by businesses with ties to Microsoft. The EU antitrust officials have developed a questionnaire directed to to advertisers and vertical search providers. Broadly speaking the 120 question document “seeks to ascertain whether Google manipulated search results and used its popular platform to keep business and disadvantage rivals in online advertising and Internet search.” obtained by The New York Times:
- Please explain whether and, if yes, to what extent your advertising spending with Google has ever had an influence on your ranking in Google’s natural search
- Has Google ever mentioned to you that increasing your advertising spending could improve your ranking in Google’s natural search?
- Did you ever refrain from advertising on other online advertising platforms because you considered the porting of advertising campaign data from Google’s AdWords to those platforms to be too expensive and/or too burdensome?
Vertical search engines also got a separate questionnaire, featuring questions such as:
- If Google introduced its competing vertical online search services after you introduced yours, please explain what was the impact on your business if any.
- Is your company aware of the existence of the features in Google’s natural search ranking algorithm which, in your view, might penalize the ranking or display of your vertical search Web site pages?
These questionnaires were sent out to major European and U.S.-based companies involved in publishing, Internet searching, advertising, and telecommunications sometime in December, and recipients were asked to return them by mid-February. The EC is seeking information dating as far back as 2003.
“People choose to go to Google,” Cutts said. “There is no barrier to entry, and with one click they can choose to go to another search engine.”