Once Again: Making Search Results Better Isn't An Antitrust Violation
from the at-least-it-better-not-be dept
And, here we go with more ridiculous antitrust lawsuits — this time against Google. You may recall last fall, the NY Times ran a silly article focusing on one small company supposedly as evidence of Google’s monopoly power. But that was hard to support when you looked at the details. Basically, this company was a pure search arbitrage player. It was buying ads on Google, sending people to a page full of links… and a bunch of Google ads. These pages are often considered spam by users for good reason: they don’t provide value. They’re a pass-through on the way to where you actually want to go. Because of that, people began to indicate to Google that such links were poor uses of their time, and Google’s algorithm properly corrected for that, lowering the prominence of those ads. That’s all about making the product better for end users.
However, the company in that NY Times profile, TradeComet, still isn’t satisfied, and has now sued Google for antitrust violations claiming that it purposely tried to destroy its SourceTool site (and, of course, it should come as no surprise that there’s a Microsoft connection for all you conspiracy buffs). There are numerous problems with this argument. First, it was TradeComet that made the decision to rely almost entirely on Google to send it traffic. That was a strategic decision (and a bad one). Second, Google has every right to make its search results better, and getting spam-like pages out of sight is one clear way to do so. Third, it’s almost laughable that Google would “target” SourceTool as a site to be “harmed.” It’s not like SourceTool was a threat to Google in any way. Fourth, even more ridiculous: since this was a search arbitrage play using Google’s ads on the results page as well, Google was making money from sending traffic to SourceTool. All in all, it seems unlikely that TradeComet will get anywhere with this, other than making people think that it picked a really bad business model, almost entirely reliant on one channel partner, and then performed poorly for that channel partner. So Google isn’t violating antitrust laws — it’s just doing business.