Europeans again raise the specter of breaking up Google

In 2014, the European Parliament held a mostly symbolic, non-binding vote to break up Google. This weekend, European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager told the UK’s The Telegraph that “the threat to split the internet giant up into smaller companies must be kept open.”
Vestager is being transparent when she says “the threat . . . must be kept open” — for leverage. As a practical matter, it’s extremely unlikely that the European Commission could unilaterally impose that sort of antitrust “remedy” on Google, especially if it were opposed in the US.
If there were broad agreement on both sides of the Atlantic and Google itself agreed to be broken up, that would be a very different story. Much more likely are additional potential fines.
In June of last year, the European Commission imposed a $2.7 billion fine on Google “abuse of its market power” in vertical (shopping) search. Google has appealed the fine.
Two other antitrust cases are pending against Google

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Google, Getty Images enter a multi-year global licensing partnership

Late last week, Google parent Alphabet and Getty Images announced a sweeping partnership that effectively ends a long-standing copyright and antitrust dispute between Getty and Google, which was filed in early 2016.
The newly announced deal was characterized by Getty as “a multi-year global licensing partnership, enabling Google to use Getty Images’ content within its various products and services.” As part of that deal, Google will be using Getty images across many of its “products and services.”
Another change, according to The Verge, is that Google will make copyright attribution and disclaimers more prominent in image search results and will remove view links to stand-alone URLs for Getty photographs.
Getty’s complaint against Google alleged traffic and revenue losses to its customers’ sites because users could see (and potentially copy) images directly from Google Image Search results. Getty claimed that the ability to save and download images promoted copyright infringement and “piracy.” Getty is not the only party to have made

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There’s nothing stopping climate change deniers from using Google AdWords

Targeted, personalized ads have long been held up as a win-win-win, for consumers, advertisers and publishers. An article from The New York Times about climate change deniers using Google AdWords to promote their agenda pokes (more) holes in that optimistic vision.
In the Times article, Hiroko Tabuchi laid out how ads proclaiming climate change a hoax appeared at the top of Google search results when searching in private browsing mode. Yet, when the climate change reporter had private browsing mode on — and Google could access more signals such as past search and browsing history to target ads to users most likely to click — ads from environmental groups, not climate change denying groups, appeared.
The Times describes the climate change-denying advertisers as having figured out how to game Google’s system: “The climate denialist ads are an example of how contrarian groups can use the internet’s largest automated advertising systems to their advantage, gaming the system to find a

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Mozilla drops Yahoo search for Google with new Firefox Quantum browser release

Mozilla announced that they have terminated their search deal with Yahoo and that their new version of the Firefox browser, named Firefox Quantum, will feature Google as the default search provider.
“As part of our focus on user experience and performance in Firefox Quantum, Google will also become our new default search provider in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” Mozilla said in a statement.
Three years ago, in 2014, Mozilla partnered with Yahoo to become the default search engine on their popular browser. Previously, Google was the default on Firefox browsers.
Mozilla Chief Business and Legal Officer Denelle Dixon told Techcrunch:
We exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo! based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search, and the broader content experience for our users. We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search. As part of our

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Alphabet (GOOG) third quarter beats estimates: $27.8 billion, revenues up 24%

Google parent Alphabet announced third-quarter results. Both revenues and earnings per share beat Wall Street estimates.
The company reported roughly $27.8 billion in total revenues (up 24 percent), with Google contributing all but $302 million of that amount. Earnings per share were $9.57, which was about $1.24 higher than expected.
Advertising generated just over $24 billion in quarterly revenue. Operating income was about $7.8 billion. However, traffic acquisition costs (TAC) rose to $3.1 billion (vs. $2.6 billion a year ago). There are sure to be analyst questions about that item.
The revenue breakdown by segment:

Google properties: $19.7 billion
Google network: $4.3 billion
Google “other revenues”: $3.4 billion
Other bets: $302 billion

Paid clicks on Google properties were up 6 percent year over year and aggregate cost per click (CPC) was up 1 percent. Here’s more detail:

Aggregate paid clicks overall up 47 percent (year over year).
Paid clicks on Google properties up 55 percent.
Paid clicks on the Google Network up 10 percent.
Aggregate CPCs down 18 percent year over

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Alphabet to create separate business unit in Europe to run Google Shopping

According to Bloomberg, Google is going to create a separate business unit to manage shopping content in search results to comply with the European Commission’s recent antitrust decision. This unit will reportedly be required to compete in the auction against shopping competitors.
The unit will apparently use its own budget and revenues to bid in the auction and will only exist in the EU. Shopping search will continue as is in other markets, including the US.
Reuters had earlier reported that Google was going to “display rival shopping comparison sites via an auction.” That approach appeared to be similar to the earlier “rival links” proposal that failed to settle the antitrust dispute before the formal complaint (statement of objections) was filed in 2015.
Google was fined roughly $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) for abuse of market position in shopping search. The fine was the largest antitrust penalty in EU history. The previous record was $1.3 billion against Intel. As part of the

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Yelp says Google violated ‘do not crawl’ provision of 2013 FTC settlement agreement

Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com
Yelp has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asserting that Google is improperly using Yelp images in local search results in violation of its 2013 antitrust settlement with the regulatory agency. Yelp also circulated the letter to several members of Congress and state attorneys general, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The 2013 settlement concluded nearly two years of investigations and political maneuvering. As part of the agreement, Google said it would:
[M]ake available a web-based notice form that provides website owners with the option to opt out from display on Google’s Covered Webpages of content from their website that has been crawled by Google. When a website owner exercises this option, Google will cease displaying crawled content from the domain name designated by the website owner on Covered Webpages on the google.com domain in the United States. Website owners will be able to exercise the opt-out described above by completing a web-based

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Report: Google to appeal $2.7 billion EU fine

According to The Telegraph, Google is planning to file an appeal against the roughly $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission in June for abuse of market position in shopping search. The fine was the largest in EU history; the previous record fine was $1.3 billion against Intel.
Last week, Intel won a rare partial victory against EU antitrust regulators when the European Court of Justice instructed a lower court to re-examine its decision and take a closer look at the underlying facts and market impact of Intel’s behavior.
It’s not clear whether last week’s decision impacted Google’s thinking on whether or not to appeal (Google’s decision was likely made before last week). Though it will likely be in process for several years, an appeal makes sense because the company faces potential similar fines and demands for change around other types of “vertical search” results such as maps/local, travel and other categories.
Google is required to submit proposals

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Google making renewed effort to help news publishers drive more subscriptions

Google has always been treated by the news industry as a kind of frenemy. Many news organizations have a tortured history with Google, including some who’ve successfully lobbied against Google in Europe. Yet for roughly a decade Google has been trying to help publishers make more money while continuing to try and serve users and its own commercial interests.
Google news-industry outreach has taken multiple forms over the years. For example, in 2009 Google proposed a range of tools and services built around the notion of “micro-payments” to publishers. The proposal included multiple components, including search, e-commerce and advertising for news organizations.
Out of these efforts eventually came Google’s First Click Free program, whereby users could gain access to otherwise subscription-protected news content in search results — with the intention of improving the outlook for subscription revenue, though Google hasn’t uniformly enforced it. Google’s Consumer Surveys provide payments to publishers (take a survey for content access) and so on.
AMP is also

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Analyst: Google’s default search deal worth $3 billion to frenemy Apple

As Apple and Google became direct competitors following the rise of Android, industry observers wondered if (and anticipated that) someday, Apple would cease to offer Google as the iPhone’s default search engine. And while Cupertino has diversified away from Google, via Spolight Search, Siri and Bing, Google is still the dominant search tool on the iPhone.
Now, a Wall Street analyst, Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein, speculates that Apple may collect as much as $3 billion in “services” revenue this fiscal year from Google. Extrapolating from an initial 2014 court disclosure that Apple received $1 billion from Google as traffic acquisition costs (TAC) for default search placement, the Bernstein analyst estimated a growth curve from there.
The belief is that the structure of the relationship between Google and Apple is a revenue share based on paid clicks generated by iOS devices — perhaps on top of a fee. Sacconaghi was quoted by CNBC saying, “Given that Google payments are nearly all profit

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