Woman working on laptop

Google, IAC Battle Over Marketing Practices

Google Weighs Penalizing IAC

Google (GOOGL) Chrome’s trust and safety team has accused IAC/InterActive Corp. (IAC), a leading media and internet company, of misleading customers about its browser extensions on Google Chrome. While Google has not yet taken action on the report, investigators have recommended that Google immediately remove and deactivate IAC’s browser extensions from the Google web store.

Google’s investigation found that IAC did not give users clear information about its browser extensions. For context, these browser extensions provide manuals, government forms, and other external applications that run inside the Chrome browser. Investigators discovered that downloading IAC extensions can change a user’s default search engine from Google to IAC-owned MyWay.com.

What This Mean for IAC

Google’s report claims that IAC engaged in what is called “browser hijacking,” a practice antivirus companies have said is unethical. It involves changing a user’s browser settings without their expressed consent and understanding. For example, the Google report described an ad campaign using search terms like “how to vote” and “vote by mail,” but when users clicked on the links, instead of providing information about voting, the ad changed users’ default search engines to MyWay and installed an IAC-owned toolbar on users’ browsers. According to the audit, which IAC disputes, “IAC’s business model appears to rely almost exclusively on unintentional installs.”

IAC owns online products like Investopedia and Angie’s List, but advertising with Google made up over a quarter of the company’s overall revenue last year. Google Chrome users downloaded IAC browser extensions over 150 million times in 2019, earning the company $291 million in revenue. If Google does decide to deactivate IAC extensions and remove those extensions from the web store, IAC executives say that will severely harm the company.

Antitrust Concerns for Google

Google may be hesitant to take action against IAC because a clamp down could highlight the tech giant’s power over internet advertising right when it is in the spotlight for alleged antitrust violations. Though IAC’s MyWay search engine has a much smaller market share than Google’s own search engine, the two are competitors in some categories.

In October, federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Google for antitrust violations related to its search product. The company is also up against antitrust investigations at the state level and abroad. It will likely proceed with caution as it decides how to handle its relationship with IAC in an effort to avoid more antitrust probes.

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisor
SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

ABOUT SoFi SoFi helps people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions. Our products for borrowing, saving, spending, investing, and protecting give our more than one million members fast access to tools to get their money right. SoFi membership comes with the key essentials for getting ahead, including career advisors and connection to a thriving community of like-minded, ambitious people. For more information, visit SoFi.com. Want an easy and convenient way to manage your financial life? Get the SoFi app. For iOS and Android.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender