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CNET News Video: Google's Schmidt spars with senators

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CNET News Video: Google's Schmidt spars with senators

4:06 /

At a congressional hearing in Washington D.C., Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) charges that Google is cooking links to favor its own properties. Google's Eric Schmidt said, "I can assure you we haven't cooked anything."

-This a chart that reflects the results of study comparing the search rankings of 3 popular price comparison sites, and those of Google shopping. Now, the 3 popular price comparison sites results are depicted in various shades of green and they Google results are depicted n red. These particular data points were gathered in April of this year and the represent the ranking results from 650 shopping related keyword searches while next tab price grabber and shopper all show significant variation. Ranking first for some and near 50th for others. Google has a very consistent rate of success. Google shopping ranked third in virtually every single instance. So, to be clear, your testimony a moment ago that these Google shopping rankings almost exclusively in the third spot are in fact the result of the same algorithm as the rankings for the other comparison sites? -There's a conflation of 2 different things going on in the study, which I've not seen, so I should not come beyond that. There's a difference between sites that do product comparison and sites that offer products themselves. Google product search is about getting you to a product, and so we tend to look for the product as opposed to the product comparison in this particular case, which is why the product is more highly ranked from the result of product comparison site. If you did the same study with all of the other product sites you would find a very different result. -Okay, okay, if we call this a product search. If we call the result a Google product result that is not subject to the same algorithmic search input that brings about the other organic algorithmic search results. -Again, I'm sorry, I may have confused you and I apologize. We do product search ranking, things like the companies that are mentioned there are price comparison shopping. They are different animals if you will. They do different. They are important. They do different things. Google product search is about searching for specific products. In that sense, product search does something similar to what price graph or next stuff and shopper does, which is why the confusion exist. It's not a-- It's an apple to oranges comparison. -Why is it that they are always third? I mean, it seems to me that this is an uncanny -Well, again I-- -statistical coincidence if we can call it that third every single time. I mean, there are few outliers where you're first or you're third or you're fourth. You're also interestingly enough occasionally eleventh. You're never twelfth. You're certainly never fiftieth or anything close to it and yet everyone of those others will find themselves everywhere along the spectrum, everywhere. You're always third almost every time. How do you explain that? -Well, again, I'd have to look at the specific results as we ranks-- -Oh, we've got the result right here, just let me now. -I need to see-- I'd actually need to see the technical details to give you a direct answer, but in general what's happening here is your having product comparison sites and the results are being compared against Google answers, which are products and the 2 cannot be properly compared and that's why, I think, you're seeing such a strange result. Okay, okay. It seems to me for whatever it's worth. When I see this, when I see you magically coming up third every time that seems to me that. I don't know whether you call this a separate algorithm or whether you reverse engineered one algorithm, but either way, you've cooked so that you're always thirds. Let's move on. -Senator, senator, may I simply say that that I can assure you we've not cooked anything. -Well, okay. You have an uncanny ability and an uncanny natural attraction to the number and that is.

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