Google to Clarify Ad Rules, Resolves French Probe into Mappling Service

Google Inc. will clarify its global policies for advertising in addition to settling with French regulators to resolve mapping-service company Navx’s complaint the Internet-search provider unfairly removed advertisements.

“The Competition Authority takes note of the willingness of Google to improve the transparency and predictability for advertisers beyond the individual case” of Navx, France’s antitrust agency said in a statement. “It is an important step toward a more transparent framework on a global level.”

The AdWords program runs clients’ ads next to related query results. Navx offers travel information such as the location of speed cameras and Wi-Fi service.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, during an Oct. 4 meeting with the regulator offered broad clarification and improvement of its advertising policies for clients, the agency said. The company is entangled in numerous regulatory disputes related to online advertising and maps and facing probes over unauthorized collection of Wi-Fi data in Germany, France and Spain.

The settlement comes as French regulators are reviewing competition in the on-line advertising market. Findings from that process are expected before the end of the year.

“The modifications will be generalized for everyone around the world,” said Ron Soffer, a lawyer for Levallois-Perre, France-based Navx, today. “The entire world will benefit.”

Restored Listing

The settlement covers the French traffic-device market. Google, which was ordered to restore Navx’s listing in June, also promised to specify what would disqualify an ad, detail the scope of any removal, and improve notifications about its AdWords policies and enforcement. The changes must take effect by Jan. 1 and run through the end of 2013.

The regulator “recognized Google’s right to set clear content policies that guarantee ads are appropriate,” Google said in an e-mailed statement today. “In its decision to close this case, the FCA made no finding of dominance or monopoly abuse,” Google said, referring to the regulator.

Any indemnification of Navx for revenue lost while its ads were suspended must come from a court ruling, the Competition Authority said in its 24-page decision. Navx sued Google at Paris’s Commercial Tribunal on Oct. 1 asking for 7 million euros ($9.7 million) in damages for its AdWords removal, Soffer said.

“Navx lost a substantial part of its income,” Soffer said. “Up until the moment when the Competition Authority ordered Navx reinstated, damages were substantial and that’s what we’re seeking to repair.”

Google declined to comment on the lawsuit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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