French watchdog forces Google to clarify AdWords

Google has agreed to clarify its global policies on advertising, after being found to have unfairly removed adverts for a rival mapping company.

Navx offers travel information such as the location of speed cameras and Wi-fi services, and is a competitor to the search giant's own Google Maps service.

French anti-trust regulators ordered Google to restore Navx's listings in June, after the company accused the search giant of unfairly excluding Navx adverts from its AdWords service, which places ads alongside related query results.

A more detailed settlement has now been reached with French authorities. Under it, Google has promised to specify why an advert would be disqualified, as well as offering details of the scope of any removal, and providing greater clarity over its AdWords policies.

"The Competition Authority takes note of the willingness of Google to improve the transparency and predictability for advertisers beyond the individual case" France's Autorité de la Concurrence said in a statement. "It is an important step toward a more transparent framework on a global level."

Google has been keen to make it clear that it has not been found guilty of any monopolistic abuse. In an statement, the company said the regulator "recognised Google's right to set clear content policies that guarantee ads are appropriate.

"In its decision to close this case, the FCA made no finding of dominance or monopoly abuse," the search giant stated.

Navx has welcomed the agency's demand for clarification.

"The modifications will be generalised for everyone around the world," said Ron Soffer, a lawyer for Navx's French subsidiary. "The entire world will benefit."

Google still faces legal action by Navx to recover €7 million in lost revenues for the period during which its adverts were suspended.