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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 6:54am

    >>there's a Microsoft connection for all you conspiracy buffs.

    Say what you wish, but representing Microsoft during the Federal Anti-trust case isn't exactly small potatoes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anonym, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    "Picked" on partner

    How does one have a choice in 'picking' a partner when Google has 80%+ rev-share. This choice, is no choice at all

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    Re: "Picked" on partner

    They could have picked Ask.com, MSN.com, Yahoo, or any of hundreds of others. They also could have picked a business plan that makes sense and doesn't annoy people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 7:16am


    Except that in this case, it is small potatoes. Rick Rule worked for one of the several firms that represented Microsoft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Pedro Mack, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    It's unfortunate that the new Google will probably just settle this out of court instead of having it go through the process that they'd very likely win. Here's the new business plan: Offer nothing useful. Sue Google because your "offering" doesn't make money. Settle with Google.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Ok That makes sense now

    I read the original complaint and I couldn't figure out why they were suing Google. Now I See.... Google made their algorithm better and these guys are crying. I am quiet glad not to hit those pages when I do my searches.

    as for comment 2. Why are you punishing a search engine that does a good job. Google came out of no where with a better product to to dethrone Yahoo, Altavista etc etc, someone will challenge them with a better product. If the search engine sucked (like full of spam pages) it would not have 80%.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    In addition to pages of Google ads searchtool.com also has pages of business.com ads.

    And the listing are sorted with a crap algorithm that makes them fairly useless. "Broadband aggregators" includes listings for aggregates; i.e. crushed stone and other materials used in poured concrete.

    The Google Quality Index should be about a -10.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    anonymous, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 10:24am

    .....why does www.business.com get better treatment? it provides the same value and is the same type of ad farm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.