Yelp, TripAdvisor and their allies launched a new effort Monday to convince European antitrust officials to force Google to stop promoting its own online services at the expense of its rivals.
The companies unveiled a new website, Focus on the User, which explains why they’re concerned that Google is making it harder for consumers to find their competing services.
“The European Commission is weighing its options to ensure that consumers searching using Google can access all websites, not just content powered by Google+,” the companies say on the new site. “We think the best way to do that is using Google’s own organic search algorithm to identify the most relevant results — regardless of their source — from across the Web.”
Other companies involved in the organization include German health advertising portal Jameda and the Swiss travel site HolidayCheck, as well as a few consumer groups, including Consumer Watchdog and Fight for the Future.
European Union antitrust officials have been investigating complaints that Google is taking advantage of its overwhelming market share there and tweaking its algorithm to push users to see its own products first and disadvantage rivals.
Google’s online competitors are stepping up their lobbying efforts this week as the European Union gets set to hold a confirmation hearing with Danish politician Margrethe Vestager, the incoming top competition commissioner who will soon begin to oversee the antitrust case against Google.
A Google spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. But last week, Google responded to similar complaints recently made public by News Corp. about the search giant’s business practices in Europe.
Google had hoped to settle the European antitrust investigation before current competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia steps down at the end of October. Despite three proposals to settle the E.U.’s antitrust concerns, Google has been unable to make an offer that the Europeans will accept. Yelp and other online rivals raised new concerns this summer about Google’s latest proposal, which effectively killed it in the eyes of the Europeans.
For now, the Europeans and Google’s rivals are mostly waiting for Vertager to take over and for the search giant to make another settlement proposal later this year.