Many of you already know this: yesterday Google and the European Commission settled the antitrust search investigation against the company in Europe. The parallel US action was settled a year ago.
There were a number of issues in the case; however the main focus was on Google’s “vertical results,” which rivals contended were siphoning off their traffic.
I wrote about the settlement and then Danny Sullivan wrote a follow-up piece showing screenshots. The core of the settlement is Google’s agreement to display three “rival links” prominently on its results page. The size and specific presentation of these links had been an ongoing matter of dispute.
The settlement is still subject to “final” approval. But here’s what the local version of “rival links” will probably look like:
The duration of the agreement is five years. It only pertains to Europe. Google didn’t have to make any such concessions in the US to settle the FTC investigation (different laws/rules in the US vs. Europe). These rival links will be paid but separate from the regular AdWords bidding system.
Google has given up more screen real estate than it originally wanted to. However it still retains discretion over the rest of the look and feel of the page. The impact on traffic to the rival links sites is uncertain at this point. But it potentially could be meaningful, given their prominence — especially in mobile. And they’re branded, with company logos.