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Turkey orders Google to change its online ad strategy (updated)

That's on top of a fine.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 15, 2020
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Google closeup logo displayed on a phone screen, smartphone on a keyboard is seen in this multiple exposure illustration, the company's symbol is globally recognized. Google, LLC is an American tech giant, a multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies in the U.S. . Amsterdam, the Netherlands on October 22, 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is facing yet another fine for allegedly abusing its search ad clout, although the financial punishment this time is less serious than its implications. Arab News reports that Turkey’s Competition Board has given Google six months to change its ad strategy after determining that the company abused its internet dominance. Its text ads supposedly skewed results by pushing some companies out of the results unless they made ad money for Google.

The online giant is also facing a fine equivalent to $25.6 million as part of the ruling. It has 60 days to appeal the decision, although it wasn’t initially clear if that would happen. We’ve asked Google for comment.

This comes two years after Turkey fined Google roughly $12.7 million for supposedly favoring some advertisers over others.

The financial penalty is trivial for Google when it makes billions in profit every quarter. However, the six-month deadline is another matter. If the ruling holds, Google faces the prospect of either changing its ad strategy or risking a ban in a country well known for its tight grip on internet services, including Google’s. It may need to strike a balance to avoid losing access to a key country.

Update 11/16 11AM ET: A Google spokesperson told Engadget the company “sell[s] advertising, not search results” and that it would “work constructively” with Turkish authorities. You can read the full statement below.

People expect Google to give them relevant, high quality search results that they can trust. That’s why we sell advertising, not search results and every ad on Google is clearly marked and set apart from the results. We will continue to work constructively with the TCA and address misconceptions about how Google search works.”

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