Google confirmed it has received a new probe from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and said it will work with the agency to answer questions about its services.
In a blog, the Mountain View, Calif. based company gave a public response to the FTC, vowing to work in the public's best interests. A report from The Wall St. Journal this week indicated the government organization was looking into Google's practices in search display advertising. Various companies have complained Google favors its own services and sites over their own.
Some wonder if Google's search display advertising business, which is its main source of revenue, has a conflict of influence with its large share in the search market. Approximately 66 percent of all web searches are done through Google according to market research firm ComScore.
Already, Google has dealt with companies like Travelocity, Expedia, Yelp and TripAdvisor complaining about its practices in search. In Europe, Google has had to deal with a similar probe from the European Commission.
Despite the mounting of criticism, Google continues to hold firm in the stance that it works in the consumer's best interest. It also said it wasn't clear what the FTC concerns were but it would oblige regardless. The official response from Google's Amit Singhal is below.
It's still unclear exactly what the FTC's concerns are, but we're clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow. No matter what you're looking for-buying a movie ticket, finding the best burger nearby, or watching a royal wedding-we want to get you the information you want as quickly as possible. Sometimes the best result is a link to another website. Other times it's a news article, sports score, stock quote, a video or a map.
Singhal goes on to clarify its strategy when it comes to search. He says Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithms every year to improve the search experience. As a result, he says, not every company can come out on top. It also says relevancy is a key to success in the Google search world.
This is not the first dealing Google has had with the FTC. Recently, it was forced to settle with the FTC after the government organization investigated the Google Buzz social network and whether it was unfairly using people's personal information. From that investigation, Google agreed to 20 years of privacy oversight from the FTC.
Google has also had to deal with government organizations regarding various acquisitions. In the past, the FTC has investigated Google's purchase of internet advertising companies DoubleClick and AdMob. Recently, it made a deal with the Justice Department allowing it to purchase ITA Software for $700 million. Google agreed to be monitored by the government and specific conditions to complete the deal.
The company is looking to avoid the same fate as Microsoft, which was served a lawsuit from the Justice Department in the late 1990s. With that lawsuit, Microsoft was nearly divided but an appeals court rejected the Justice Department's request for that to happen.