Google is giving preference to YouTube over competing platforms including Dailymotion and Facebook in search results, a media report claims. The latest allegation on the search giant comes amidst various probes in its competitive practices. YouTube is already a behemoth in the video streaming market, with $15 billion (roughly Rs. 1.12 lakh crores) in annual advertising revenue reported in January. However, by secretively providing a competitive edge in search, Google is making its video platform even stronger than the competition.
Engineers at Google have made certain changes to give preferences to YouTube over other video sources in search results, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. YouTube's prioritisation on the first page of search results has reportedly been decided by Google executives in recent years as a part of efforts to drive traffic to the video-sharing platform.
To understand the biased behaviour, The Journal conducted some tests in March using different IP addresses and by searching Google for the exact titles of 98 recent videos on Dailymotion and Facebook that had also been almost identically posted on YouTube. Google's native platform outperformed over the other two competitors, irrespective of views and comments.
The YouTube version of the videos available on Facebook was in the first slot of video carousel results 95 percent of the time, while in case of Dailymotion videos, YouTube results emerged first 82 percent of the time, the newspaper said. Apart from Facebook and Dailymotion, some Twitch videos were used for the tests, but the gamers-focussed platform is said to have “sharply underperformed” in video carousel search results.
Google introduced video carousels to its desktop search results in 2018 — as a replacement to the existing video thumbnails. The new change was aimed to help enhance the experience for end consumers and allow website owners to get more traffic by following certain guidelines. Although several websites at the present stage follow those guidelines, results from YouTube are found to surpass the competition most of the time.
A Google spokesperson, however, said no preference has been given specifically to YouTube or any other video provider in search results. “Our systems use a number of signals from the web to understand what results people find most relevant and helpful for a given query,” the spokesperson told The Journal.
This is notably not the first time when Google is found to have leveraged its domination in the online search world to take on the competition. The Mountain View, California-headquartered company is, in fact, already facing a series of antitrust lawsuits for abusing its dominance of online search. In 2017, the European Commission even imposed EUR 2.4 billion (roughly Rs. 20,581 crores) fine for its anti-competitive behaviour. The company did protest against the eye-catching fine in February this year, though the EU judge disagreed.
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