Feeds

Google antitrust? Ask the one man who can (almost) answer

To know the unknowable

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Does Google set prices?

So we asked the larger questions. Given what we do know about AdWords, is it really an auction? Given that Yahoo!'s Panama mimics the AdWords setup — and given the added wrinkle of something like squashing — is it an auction? At what point do these complex online auctions cease to be auctions?

He didn't answer these questions directly. "The way we tend to think about this is a little bit different," he said. "We're often trying to juggle many different objectives: make money, help user, deliver value to advertisers. That leads to complex systems. That's not necessarily fatal to the system. If I'm a search advertiser, I can change my bid a little and assess what happens. The system can give optimization tools that will help [advertisers] make sensible choices.

"The American economy is an immensely complex object...But does that mean you can't achieve an effective life in the system? Not necessarily."

A sensible answer. But it doesn't get to the heart of the antitrust issue. So we asked point blank: Does Google set prices?

"I think it's substantially true that they don't set prices. Yes, they have a reserve price, but that has a minor effect on the overall volume of commerce...I buy that argument. They don't substantially set prices. Could they? Maybe. But they don't." Then he paused. "Transparency would obviously help," he added.

What McAfee does say that ultimately Google — and Yahoo! — benefit more from competition among bidders than from straight price settings. The competitive bidding is what makes AdWords so successful. "They could be cheating in some sense and we would have a hard time knowing it because they're so opaque," he said. "[But] if I could have two bidders or one bidder and a reserve price, I'd be better off with two bidders.

"Am I standing up and swearing in court? No."

But perhaps one day he will. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.