Google is preparing to split off its shopping service into a standalone unit in order to satisfy EU demands over the display of rival shopping comparison sites.
According to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with matter, Google has a deadline of Thursday (28 September) to comply with an EU antitrust order and prove to the Union it has found a way to give equal treatment to its competitors in search.
The standalone shopping service will remain part of Google, but will operate separately and use its own revenues to bid for ads against rivals.
Last week, it was reported that Google would only offer to display rival sites via an auction, but did not at the time have the idea of completely separating its shopping service and as such that proposal would likely have fallen short of EU demands.
EU regulators ordered Google to stop promoting its own shopping search results over rivals’ back in June, when the company was fined a record €2.42bn (£2.14bn) for antitrust violations.
Under Google’s proposal, the company will make changes to its advertising panel at the top of the search results, giving competitors the opportunity to bid for all 10 available slots. This change will only affect Google’s search results in Europe.
Although Google Shopping will also have to bid for the slots it wants, any bids will come from its own operating costs and will not be subsidised by Google itself.