Google Accuses IAC/InterActive Of 'Deceptive Marketing Practices'

Google may impose “severe penalties” on IAC/InterActive Corp. over what it deems “deceptive marketing practices.”

On Sunday, IAC, under Barry Diller as chairman, had several Chrome browser extensions removed from the Google Chrome Web Store, where users can download extensions to add on to the browser.

IAC and Google earn money when users click on search ads. These extensions are free to users and monetize through search.

In this instance, five extensions were removed by Google due to “an affiliate incident” based on a third-party audit that accounted for less than 1% of IAC’s installs. When learning of the mishap, an IAC spokesperson said the company took immediate action to stop the campaign, paused the affiliate and imposed financial penalties for the infraction of Google policies. 

IAC and Google have worked together for more than 15 years, and every browser product is reviewed and approved by Google before being released to the Chrome Store, an IAC spokesperson told Search & Performance Marketing Daily.

“Google has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from us to advertise and distribute these products in the Chrome Store,” the IAC spokesperson explains. “There’s nothing new here — Google has used their position to reduce our browser business to the last small corner of the internet, which they’re now seeking to quash.”

Google believes IAC misled users about its browser extensions -- third-party applications that run inside Google’s Chrome browser.

“We continue to have conversations with IAC related to Chrome Web Store policies and we have already removed a number of their extensions for violating our policies," a Google spokesperson wrote in an email. "We're reviewing the remaining extensions and our enforcement options, and have not made a decision regarding IAC's status on the store."

IAC-made browser extensions promise users quick access to content such as government forms, power-tool manuals, and daily Bible quotations. The company owns Angie’s List, Ask, DotDash (formerly, Investopedia, Vimeo, and more than 100 other online products.

The document viewed by The Wall Street Journal recommended “immediate removal and deactivation” of IAC’s browser extensions from Google’s web store.

Penalties set by Google could ban products from the search engine’s Chrome browser. IAC continues to push back, saying a move like this would “devastate a key part of its business,” according to The Wall Street Journal, based on documents and people familiar with the matter.

The recommendation is based on Google’s Chrome trust and safety team. Google Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker is concerned that penalties could be viewed as anticompetitive, according to people familiar with the matter.



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