Google has agreed to prominently promote rival companies including Kelkoo and Shopzilla to avoid being hit by fines from the European Commission.
Rival services complained that the firm has unfairly used its the popularity of its search engine platform to promote its mapping, price comparison and other in-house services to their detriment.
While Google has denied the accusations it has agreed a series of wide-ranging changes with the EC to avoid the risk of fines.
It will now “guarantee” to ensure that whenever it promotes its own specialised search services, “the services of three rivals, selected through an objective method, will also be displayed in a way that is clearly visible to users and comparable to the way in which Google displays its own services.”
In addition Google will ensure content owners have the right to opt-out of its specialised search services “without being penalised by Google” and remove “exclusivity requirements in its agreements with publishers for the provision of search advertisements”.
It will also end “restrictions on the ability for search advertising campaigns to be run on competing search advertising platforms.”
Google’s compliance with all undertakings, which apply within the European Economic Area for a period of 5 years, will be supervised by an independent monitoring trustee.
Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said: “My mission is to protect competition to the benefit of consumers, not competitors. I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission’s concerns.
“Without preventing Google from improving its own services, it provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative.
“This way, both Google and its rivals will be able and encouraged to innovate and improve their offerings. Turning this proposal into a legally binding obligation for Google would ensure that competitive conditions are both restored quickly and maintained over the next years.”