Google Cites Incorrect Traffic Data In Response Post To EU Antitrust Charges

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In the wake of a formal Statement of Objections (antitrust charges) filed this week in Europe, Google has sought to portray itself as simply one competitor among a broader list of competitors in various market sectors. Accordingly, in its blog post disputing the claims made in the EU Statement, Google cited a range of traffic data, some of which turned out to be incorrect.

Specifically Google cited traffic data for the newspaper Guardian and Yelp that proved to be wrong. The Guardian disputed Google’s statement that “85% of their traffic [is direct]. Less than 10% comes from Google.” The paper called those numbers, which were apparently from SimilarWeb, “nonsense” based on the newspaper’s internal traffic data.

Google also originally said that Yelp got 40 percent of its traffic from its mobile app. However Yelp corrected that assertion, apparently saying that 40 percent of search queries came from its mobile apps. Yelp actually previously reported 65 percent of its query volume come mobile devices in Q4. Regardless, this is search not traffic volume.

Google apologized and subsequently corrected the stats in its post:

Update: An earlier version of this post quoted traffic figures for Bild and The Guardian, researched on a third-party site. The Guardian data were for the domain guardian.co.uk, which is no longer the main domain for the paper. We’ve removed these references and we’re sorry for the error. Yelp has pointed out that they get 40% of their searches (not their traffic) direct from their mobile apps. They don’t appear to disclose their traffic numbers. We’re happy to correct the record.

Are these simple errors or a product of overreaching and bending data to make the company look less dominant? It depends on your point of view.

Stepping back, the EU’s formal charges come at a time that may in retrospect be seen as Google’s high point. It’s undisputed that the company is the globe’s dominant search engine. But just as Microsoft was being pursued by the US and EU as a PC/OS monopoly, the market was shifting and the company’s dominance was being eroded by technology and consumer behavior changes.

That is probably also happening to Google right now. The company faces challenges from mobile apps and from Facebook and others that have made it less dominant or central to the mobile internet. And although Google is in no danger of being marginalized in mobile (at this point) it is rapidly having to adapt to a new world where it less “necessary,” as well as to intensifying competition.

I think there’s little chance that innovation is being stifled.

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