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WSJ Op-Ed: Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz "Google Has Become a Brand Killer"

Today’s Wall Street Journal published an op-ed from Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz titled “Google’s Monopoly and Internet Freedom.” In it, Katz outlines how Google has been abusing its monopoly power to charge higher prices for preferred search rankings, distorting the presentation and order of sites listed on its search results page and effectively hampering other companies’ ability to compete for eyeballs on Google sites, where the vast majority of searches occur online. Katz explains that Google’s use of its control over the top spots in search results has had a devastating effect on the online marketplace: “by controlling which companies, organizations and causes get exposure, Google has become a brand killer. If Google pushes a merchant or company to page three of its search results—let alone page 40—it is life altering.”

Katz’s own company, and countless others, have been impacted negatively by Google’s abuse of its monopoly position in search and search advertising. Businesses are powerless against Google because, as Katz details, “Google has spent years trying to monopolize every avenue through which a company can reach users online—whether it is through search, advertising, email, mobile devices or browsers.”

The European Commission recently presented Google with a number of antitrust concerns and has given Google until July 2nd to respond with satisfactory, enforceable remedies that will restore a competitive landscape to Internet search and online services. Katz encourages European Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia to push for cooperation from Google in creating a legally binding outcome to the Commission’s investigation of Google’s business practices that results in:

  • Transparency for users in how Google’s search engine works, and when a link receives more prominent placement because it is a Google product or advertiser with the company;
  • Access to search results that are not biased by Google’s promoted placement for advertisers or promotion of its own products;
  • Equal  advertising opportunities for all companies with Google – regardless of their competitive position relative to Google’s own products and services.

Katz ends his piece with a sentiment about Google similar to one FairSearch has also voiced: “More than any other company, government or regulatory body, Google has the ability to ensure that the Internet remains free, dynamic and open. But for that to happen, its directors need to change course.”

When it comes to restoring competition, Google has proven that “trust us” is not enough. That’s why law enforcement agencies in the EU, U.S. and around the world that are investigating Google must enforce existing antitrust laws to protect consumers and innovators online.