Recently, Yelp filed a private antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission (EC). Now it’s attempting to appeal to Google’s own employees to agitate for change from within the company.
This attempt is both naïve and shrewd at the same time. Check out the “Focus on the User” video below, which makes several points:
- Google is an essential tool to organize and access online information.
- It is not applying its own algorithm to its local content.
- The health of the internet economy depends on Google not exempting its own content from the algorithm.
- Making Google’s local content compete with third-party content in the OneBox is an antitrust solution.
- Google employees should advocate for this internally.
It’s Yelp’s hope that they will motivate Google employees to “take action.” There have been several Google employees who have already resigned in protest of a Google Defense Department contract. There are sources found internally at Google that suggest the video isn’t being discussed and, more than likely, isn’t having much of an impact. But if anything, it’s have a PR effect.
Focus on the User is a consortium of companies, which is led by Yelp, that have been lobbying the EU around Google antitrust issues. Some of the arguments in Yelp’s complaint to the EC includes:
- Outside of a couple of categories, the local search ecosystem in Europe is stunted and of lower quality because of Google’s aggressive moves into local.
- Consumers are ultimately harmed because they have fewer options and choices and have few “serious alternatives” to Google in most local categories.
- Reviews on Google is lower (than Yelp), which harms consumers.
- More competition would remedy these weaknesses.
These arguments will be, at least somewhat, persuasive to the EC.
In a new Statement of Objections from the EC has a fairly good chance of being filed it seems. In kind, the complaint is similar to the comparison-shopping complaint that resulted in a roughly $2.7 billion penalty, which Google is currently appealing.
Google offered the following statement in response to my request for comment on the video:
We do not make changes to our algorithm to disadvantage competitors. Our responsibility is to deliver the best results possible to our users, not specific placements for sites within our results. We understand that those sites whose ranking falls will be unhappy and may complain publicly.