There is a lot of money being spent by European governments investigating Google right now. Italy has just closed their investigation but the European Union is doing a wide spread inquiry with a 120 question survey out to various industries and companies.
Italy closed their 16 month investigation into complaints from newspaper publishers with a more transparent agreement, Network World reported. “Under the new agreement content producers will be allowed to monitor the number of clicks on links to their websites, so as to keep track of Google’s earnings and their own entitlement.”
Meanwhile the EU is asking if advertisers have been offered better organic search results in return for increased PPC spends or lowered results if they moved spends elsewhere. They have also asked the other engines what impact Google has in the market.
The New York Times reported the “European Commission opened a formal inquiry into Google on Nov. 30 after receiving complaints from Web companies based in France, Britain and Germany.”
“Investigators also asked for supporting documents, “whatever their form,” including e-mails, faxes, letters and “notes taken during telephone calls or meetings, etc.” the NYT noted.
Search Engine Land published a copy of 21 of the questions including the ones where they want the companies to “indicate the gross revenues (including traffic acquisition costs, “TAC”) and the net revenues (excluding TAC) generated by the online advertisements (“ads”) placed on your ad network/exchange or by your media agency during the last six years (i.e. 2005-2010) (i) within the EEA and (ii) per EEA country you are active in and (iii) provide an estimate of your corresponding market share(s)“
The questions are credited with being from the shorter version given to other search engines.
Another asks “Please provide a list with the contact details of your current 20 largest publishing partners within the EEA.”
The EU questions definitely reflect other companies being approached and questioned. One of the reasons Italy dropped their investigation is it “now makes it easier for publishers to quit Google News without affecting their organic search results, and promises to keep the system like that heading forward”.