Google AdWords under CCI scanner in India

Competition watchdog CCI has asked its investigation arm to probe the alleged discriminatory practices by global search engine Google relating to its AdWords, sources said.

The investigation, according to sources, was ordered after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) found "prima facie evidence" that Google has abused its dominant market position by being discriminatory in allotting keywords to matrimonial site Bharatmatrimony.com.

"We have asked the Director General (Investigations) to complete the probe and give a report on it within 60 days. Prima facie, we found evidence that suggests that Google did abuse its dominant market position," a senior official told reporters.

When contacted a Google spokesperson said, "We have not received any communication and therefore we are unable to comment on it".

In February, BharatMatrimony had filed a complaint against Google alleging that the multinational company has abused its dominance by engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory practices relating to AdWords.

The AdWords programme, in which Google sells keywords to advertisers and displays them in the form of short ads online, is a big money spinner for the company.

"BharatMatrimony... requests that the Commission investigate Google's practices and impose remedial measures to protect competition," match-making portal had said in a statement.

It added the "increasing number of competition law complaints against Google globally suggests a pattern of anti- competitive conduct that needs to be checked in order to protect Indian businesses and consumers".

In 2011, the advertising segment comprised 96 per cent of Google's $38 billion revenue.

BharatMatrimony is owned by Consim Info which has over 400 community portals and 15 regional portals.

-Agency