Is There a Market for Organic Search Engine Results and Can Their Manipulation Give Rise to Antitrust Liability?

Journal of Competition Law and Economics, pp. 1-25, May 2014

23 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2014

See all articles by James D. Ratliff

James D. Ratliff

Compass Lexecon

Daniel L. Rubinfeld

University of California at Berkeley - School of Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); NYU Law School

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

In recent years Google has been accused of manipulating its organic search results to favor its own services. We explore possible choices of relevant antitrust markets that might make various antitrust allegations meaningful. We argue that viewing Internet search in isolation ignores the two-sided nature of the search advertising platform and the feedback effects that link the provision of organic search results to consumers, on the one hand, and the sale to businesses of advertising on the other. We conclude that the relevant market in which Google competes with respect to Internet search is at least as broad as a two-sided search-advertising market. We also ask whether Google has a duty to provide organic search results that are neutral with respect to whether the displayed listing is for a Google rather than a non-Google business. We articulate and apply a standard that asks whether various practices related to Google’s organic search results would harm competition that would have otherwise occurred.

Keywords: search, market definition

JEL Classification: L41, L44

Suggested Citation

Ratliff, James D. and Rubinfeld, Daniel L., Is There a Market for Organic Search Engine Results and Can Their Manipulation Give Rise to Antitrust Liability? (2014). Journal of Competition Law and Economics, pp. 1-25, May 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2473210

James D. Ratliff

Compass Lexecon ( email )

United States

Daniel L. Rubinfeld (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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