According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is using the space above its search results to promote its own products.
The report notes that the search giant was using its own precious space in order to push various products like its own Pixel phones, as well as Nest products and Android smartwatches.
Whenever someone enters a search term related to a piece of hardware, ads for the relevant items sold by either Google or a sister company would appear in the most prominent spot on the page 91 percent of the time.
After the Journal presented the findings of the analysis to Google on December 15, there were significantly fewer ads for its own products. Google has said that they consciously and carefully designed its advertising features in a way that will not affect other advertisers.
The ads that show up above Google search results are chosen by an algorithmic auction that the search engine conducts in a fraction of a second. The algorithm determines which ads are featured most prominently, in addition to the cost per click. Google is only paid by the advertiser if a user clicks on the ad.
Last year, the European Union accused Google of abusing its position by promoting its own products on search results, giving it an ‘unfair advantage’ over its competitors. Google denied the allegations, however, EU continues to investigate. If Google is found to have violated Europe’s laws, the search giant could pay upwards of $7 billion in fines.