CIRC in MEDIA - November  2011


Time ripe to reform India's competition laws: Veerappa Moily
Domain-B, November 26, 2011

The government is looking at a comprehensive reform of competition laws in the country, both at the central and states level, in order to foster a culture of competition and to promote innovation, minister for corporate affairs Veerappa Moily said today.

''The time has come for all the stakeholders in the growth of Indian economy to come forward and launch a national movement to build a culture of competition so as to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and inclusive growth and to be part in ushering second generation of reforms,'' Moily said.

He was speaking at a conference on building `Friends of Competition' in India, organised by CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC) and the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) of the ministry of corporate affairs, in New Delhi yesterday.

Consumer Unity & Trust Society, (CUTS) started off in Rajasthan in 1983, as a rural development communication initiative, has been instrumental in providing a forum for the oppressed classes to get justice.

''The stage is set for competition policy reforms,'' Moily said, adding that ''as per a recent study, Indian GDP in 2050 will be $85 trillion, ahead of China and the US and in order to achieve this, the second-generation economic reforms at centre, state and sub-state levels are now required.

''We now need a culture of high productivity, efficiency, innovation or competition. Competition policy and law are instruments, which positively affect the bottom of pyramid and therefore will be defining moment within the policy reform agenda,'' he said.

Competition policy reforms aim at promoting sustained high level of economic growth, control inflation, enhance productivity and attain international competitiveness, and generate employment opportunities, hw said.

The conference was attended by a large number of national and international dignitaries and participants from government, bureaucracy, competition authorities, legal professionals, economists, academicians, research think tanks, media and persons from the civil society.

The conference is a first step in building networks to facilitate exchange of ideas, views and experience amongst government, competition authority, civil society organisations and academicians.

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APMCs hold key to retail reform
Business Line, November 25, 2011

By Suparna Karmakar

Unless State APMC laws are implemented, benefits from investment in retail won't reach farmers.

Amidst opposition, including from its own coalition partners, the UPA government has approved 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail.

This sets the stage for the proposal to be placed in Parliament for passage. The government has justified this reform as an important pillar for fighting the double-digit inflation in the country.

The popular debate on FDI in retail has focused largely on the impact that unfettered introduction of corporate modern retail would have on the traditional retailers and their employment/livelihood concerns. This debate is likely to be renewed in the days to come.

But an important stakeholder group in the retail distribution chain are the multitude of small farmers and small agro-processors, who receive the most miniscule share of the revenue pie, and whose concerns are almost always overshadowed by the better lobbying power of the intermediaries in the agricultural supply chain. Here, we examine the impact that the new retail policy will have on this group of producer/consumer, as also the effect on inflation.

India has been undergoing considerable structural change in the post-liberalisation period. While the farm sector is slowly diversifying and its share in growth is declining, it continues to support or provide a living to more than half the country's populace. But farming isn't a remunerative profession, especially in India.

The absence of a functioning agricultural market and an unviable minimum support price (MSP) for rice has forced farmers in Andhra Pradesh to leave their lands fallow in this cropping season; the movement is spreading to other states. Since the mid-1990s, an estimated 1.5 lakh small farmers have committed suicide, most of them due to debts, according to the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University.

Most analysts and policymakers favour modernising distribution networks and shortening supply chains to make it easier for retailers and food processors to buy direct from farmers, which would potentially improve the returns to investment made by the farmer. But despite the existence of a draft model Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, not all States that have adopted it enforce this Act in the right spirit, and some have only partially amended/introduced amendment Bills.

According to Agriculture Ministry data, out of 35 states and Union Territories (UTs) only 17 states have amended their APMC Act to allow direct marketing, contract farming and markets in private and cooperative sectors. Key grain producing states, such as Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, have initiated only partial reforms.

Also, seven states and UTs don't have any APMC Act to govern agricultural trade. And in the states that allow retailers to do this outside the regulated local markets known as mandi, in practice, poor infrastructure makes that difficult. As a result, the supply chains are fragmented and often involve several layers of middlemen between tractor and table.

HURDLES TO DISTRIBUTION

We conducted a survey of experts in the sector, in order to understand the effect of intermediaries in the supply chain on business models and profitability and productivity, and on how to improve state of play in the regulatory regime.

The not-so-surprising finding was that the large geographical area of India and its relatively weak infrastructure were the most important constraints on creating a proper distribution system.

Combined with the multiple tax jurisdictions and various inter-state border barriers, this has resulted in fragmentation of the fresh food and groceries market, both from the procurement and retailing perspectives. This latter has, in fact, resulted in levelling the sourcing field in so far as all retailers (large and small, including the hand-cart retailers) necessarily have to make procurements from the mandis.

Our discussions with large corporate retailers (domestic and JV units) and cash-and-carry wholesalers reveal that even with the investments made in the backend infrastructure and tying up direct sourcing, around 60-70 per cent of the total procurements are still from the mandis and the consolidators (importers/trading houses).

But the more important understanding was that the mandis are usually managed/controlled by a few traders, who often collude and form cartels, and thereby prevent the farmer from selling to the best buyer. Furthermore, not only are trading licences given according to the norms set by the market governing councils, these entrenched interests also don't allow private mandis to operate, that would allow for free competition in the market.

In a rare example, Delhi has six mandis and seemingly enough competition, but the muddled nature of the operating laws and their opaque implementation make the mandis de facto monopolies. Hence, farmers are denied the right to sell their produce outside the mandis and directly to consumers, retailers or food processors, while the retailer pays inflated prices when procuring from the intermediaries.

IMPLEMENT STATE-LEVEL LAWS

A reform of the APMC Act will require huge political will to break these agricultural cartels, in addition to harmonising the implementation of the Act in the different states that create market distortions. But unless state-level APMC laws are altered and implemented to conform to the spirit of the model APMC law, the benefits from the increased investment in the retail sector and new infrastructure creation won't reach the small farmers and small agro-processors.

Creating an effective choice of multiple and competitive market channels for farmers by means of APMC reform will be the first step towards fighting the persistent inflationary conditions assailing the country

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Comprehensive Competition Reforms at Centre State and Sub-State Levels will be Defining Moment in India: Moily
PIB, November 25, 2011

The time has come for all the stakeholders in the growth of Indian economy to come forward and launch a national movement to build a culture of competition so as to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and inclusive growth and to be part in ushering second generation of reforms. This was stated by the Minister for Corporate Affairs, Dr M Veerappa Moily at the Conference on Building “Friends of Competition” in India, organised by CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC) and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), Ministry of Corporate Affairs, in New Delhi yesterday. Shri Moily said “the stage is set for competition policy reforms.”

He added that “as per a recent study, Indian GDP in 2050 will be $85 trillion, ahead of China and the US and in order to achieve this, the second-generation economic reforms at centre, state and sub-state levels are now required. We now need a culture of high productivity, efficiency, innovation or competition.

Competition policy and law are instruments which positively affect the bottom of pyramid and therefore will be defining moment within the policy reform agenda. The major objectives of the competition reform measures are to promote sustained high level of economic growth, control inflation, enhance productivity and attain international competitiveness, and generate employment opportunities.”

The conference was attended by a large number of national and international dignitaries and participants from government, bureaucracy, competition authorities, legal professionals, economists, academicians, research think tanks, media and persons from the civil society.

The conference provided a timely and well needed platform for various stakeholders to come and share their views in light of the process of framing of National Competition Policy and amendments to the Competition Act are under way.

During various sessions, eminent subject-experts from India and other countries who spoke included: Allan Fels, Dean, Australia and New Zealand School of Government and a former competition regulator from Australia, Dhanendra Kumar, Chairman of the National Competition Policy Committee, Justice SN Dhingra, Member of the CCI, Peter Varghese, Australian High Commissioner, Yashwant Bhave, Chairman of AERA, AK Chauhan, Director General of CCI, Mahendra Swarup, President of Indian Venture Capital Association, Sandeep Varma, Director, Ministry of Defence, etc.

The conference is a first step in building networks of to facilitate exchange of ideas, views and experience amongst government, competition authority, civil society organisations and academicians.

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Economic policies should complement competition law: Veerappa Moily
Press Trust of India, November 24, 2011

Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily today said policies relating to foreign investment, international trade and intellectual property rights should complement the competition policy as these sectors are prone to natural monopolies.

At a conference of CUTS International, Moily identified infrastructure, FDI and international trade, intellectual property rights and financial markets as sectors which may affect competition the domestic market.

"Competition law and policy need to be supported and made compatible with other complementary pro-development policies that can have a bearing on economic development," Moily said.

The Ministry is working on the National Competition Policy and has held consultations with various stakeholders as well as state governments.

The new competition policy -- which has been billed as the herald of the next wave of economic reforms in the country -- seeks to integrate the principles of competition in various economic policies of the government and reap the benefits of the competition therein.

The basic premise of the competition policy -- the draft of which has not been made public yet -- is that the government should not restrict market activity any more than is necessary to achieve its social and other goals.

Earlier, the Minister had said the draft of the National Competition Policy is likely to be placed before the Cabinet for approval in December and by January, 2012, the final policy.

There is a need for enhancing awareness on the science of search monetization, and for more transparency in search results, from a consumer trust perspective.

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How to avoid Google Penalty for your site
The Times of India, November 22, 2011

NEW DELHI: In May 2009, a year after being in business, OneNewsPage.com founder Marc Pinter Krainer woke up to see internet traffic on his site turning to almost zilch - that too overnight.

Krainer, who had raised money a few months back from investors, was not only red-faced but perplexed too about the reason for this drop. Only later did Krainer discover that the dip was because of Google Penalty, whereby your site will show up lower on Google Search.

"It may have been an accidental deletion, or deliberate. May be because it was a competition to Google's own news website," Krainer told ET during an India visit. The reason for the penalty, he says is still unknown. But it hurt him very badly because like thousands of websites, being crawled by a Google Search crawler is a must for OneNewsPage.com to generate traffic.

Websites face Google Penalty - also called the Sandbox Effect - where they may be subject to filtering to prevent them having their full impact. It occurs when a website doesn't conform to its standards in terms of quality, content or is found using subversive optimisation techniques.

"If a site isn't appearing in Google search results or it's performing more poorly than it once did, one can check out our help centre article to try to identify and fix potential causes of the problem," said a Google spokeswoman.

Subversive optimisation is another reason for such filtering. Historical use of links as a "vote" for ranking web documents can be subject to manipulation. Google has filed patents that seek to qualify or minimise the impact of such manipulation, which Google terms as "link spam". Link spam is driven by search engine optimisers who manipulate Google's page ranking by creating lots of inbound links to a new site from other web sites that they own.

The penalties

The penalties can be both manual - actually demoting a site -- or algorithmic, where changes in the search algorithm causes a website to move down. For one, a '-30 penalty', which Google applies when a website fails to use effective search optimisation techniques, lowers the site's position on Google.com down by 30 places. A '--60 penalty' will lower your site down by 60 places on search. A '--950 penalty' will make your site slid on Google.com by 95 pages - you are almost not there.

A similar penalty was faced by Adam Raff, CEO and founder of Foundem.com, a UK price comparison site. Like Krainer's, Raff's website also faced a Google Penalty but for three years. Unlike Krainer, Raff went to court following which,the European Union has started investigating Google's Penalty system last year when Foundem, and Microsoft reportedly said that Google was demoting their sites manually since they competed with the search major.

The transparency issue

Defending Google, the company's executive chairman Eric Schmidt said before a US senate panel in September. "We've recently introduced even more transparency efforts including announcing changes to our algorithm, providing more notice when a website is demoted due to spam violations and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules.

We built search for our users, not websites. No matter what we do there would be some websites unhappy with where they rank, "he said.

Google updates its search algorithms every year with more than 300 changes, which causes thousands of sites to move up or down on their rankings. "When I started 16 years ago in the search business, we could get you ranked to the top searchwithin a week," says 62-year-old Bruce Clay, Search Engine Optimisation expert. "Now it could take months to rank at the top, as search engines change their algorithms every few hours," he adds.

The recent search alogorithm updates by Google impact 35% of all searches. They are expected to provide more timely than stale results and around 10% searches will have noticeable impact.

"If Google penalises a website, it should be told on what counts and why," said Navneet Sharma, of CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition.

Last week, it released a survey conducted in India across 500 respondents, which said that users tend to trust natural search results more than paid results. But the users are not easily able to distingusih between the two adding another dimension to search neutrality debate.

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Online search in India: Consumer trust eroded by ads blending in online search results - Survey
One News Page , November 19, 2011

New user survey finds high user distrust of ads blending in online search results

NEW DELHI, India -- A new study of Indian internet users, conducted recently by the CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC) has revealed that paid advertising getting interspersed with natural search results is not quite what users want.

While a lot of research has been done on user perception about search in Europe and the US, this is the first time a study of this nature brings in a data-driven India perspective about internet search.

The pioneering study, which was conducted in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Jaipur, throws up interesting user perceptions about search engines and search results. The study was conducted among 500 respondents, almost equitably divided among the three cities.

Anupam Khanna of NASSCOM, Pradeep S Mehta of CUTS International, A.K. Chauhan of CCI and Marc Pinter-Krainer of One News Page at the CIRC conference on Regulating Online Markets in India, New Delhi
Panel speakers at the CIRC seminar on Regulating Online Markets in India: From left to right: Anupam Khanna, Director-General(Policy) and Chief Economist of Nasscom , Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International (chair) A.K. Chauhan, Director-General of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Dr Marc Pinter-Krainer, Founder & CEO of One News Page

Effects of online market conducts "yet to be understood"

Speaking at the seminar, Mr A.K. Chauhan, Director-General of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), said: “The effects of the market conducts in the online space are yet to be understood on account of the complexities in the online ecosystem. The determination of the relevant market, both product and geographical, along with assessment of a dominant position, would require very sophisticated analysis. The findings of the pioneering survey will provide useful insights.”

"Reasoned regulatory response"

Chairing the event, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International said: “The exponential growth in the online market space has thrown new and complex regulatory challenges to the government in general and the CCI in particular.” Mehta highlighted the role of transparency and democracy in policies and conducts of dominant players in online markets. Continued growth, Mehta felt, of the online market, will depend a reasoned regulatory response.

Consumers and SMEs affected
Presenting the findings of the study, Dr Navneet Sharma, Director, CUTS Institute of Regulation and Competition, said: “the unattended issues emanating from the online markets, which affect consumers and SMEs alike, required primary research. This survey is a product of this demand.”

Urgent need for greater transparency

Speaking at the event, Founder and CEO of One News Page, Dr Marc Pinter-Krainer, shared his experiences about the evolution and monetisation of search results over the past 10 years. Corroborating the findings of the study, Dr Pinter-Krainer said: “Over the past 10 years, a significant rift has formed between what consumers perceive about what they see in search results and what is actually displayed to them. Particularly on Google, relevant organic search results are being increasingly replaced by advertisements and Google’s own services – often without the user realising it. There is an urgent need for greater transparency.”

Thorough considerations required

Director-General (Policy) and Chief Economist of Nasscom, Anupam Khanna, underlined the importance of networks in online markets. “The purpose of regulation in a multi-sided market requires thorough considerations on parameters such as market failures, consumer protection, tax and fiscal reasons etc,” Khanna said.

Key findings of the user survey

1) More than two-thirds of the respondents were active internet users (access the internet more than seven times a week)
2) 100% of respondents use online search
3) While the preference of web browsers was almost equally split among Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, all respondents preferred Google as their search engine. This highlights the level of faith users have in Google’s brand and search technology.
4) 31% of respondents were unaware that search engines also promote their own content alongside other websites and services. Almost half of them did not prefer search engines doing so.
5) 64% of respondents were aware that search engines capture user data from their searches, while 29% felt it was wrong, and wanted to switch search engines upon knowing this.
6) Almost one-third of the respondents clicked on the top ads, which accrue revenues for the search engine. A negligible 1% clicked on the side ad bar on the search results page. (In our experiment, top ads appeared on 90% of search result pages)
7) More than half of the respondents were unable to identify the top ad bar correctly. A comparatively lower 36% were unable to to identify the side ad bar on a search result page.
8) Almost two-thirds of the respondents in Jaipur were unable to spot the difference between natural search results and paid results.
9) Nearly half the respondents stated they would never or hardly ever click on search results that they knew were ads.
10) More than two-thirds of respondents felt that natural search results are more useful than ads.
11) Less than 30% of the respondents considered ads as trustworthy as natural results. Over 40% felt they should not appear above natural results

Conclusion

There is a need for enhancing awareness on the science of search monetization, and for more transparency in search results, from a consumer trust perspective.

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Online economy in india: industry leaders call for regulation and better transparency
One News Page , November 17, 2011

Dr Marc Pinter-Krainer, Founder & CEO of One News Page, joined industry leaders in India to speak out about the requirement for regulation and better transparency in the online marketplace

India's CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC) recently hosted a seminar entitled "SME Vulnerability & Resilience in the Online Economy" in Mumbai, during which Dr. Marc Pinter-Krainer of One News Page highlighted the risk factors associated with obscure Google search penalties - an issue of great concern and the focus of the "Have I been penalized..?" campaign for greater search engine transparency.

Regulation and Transparency Required for SMEs to Leverage Internet Effectively

MUMBAI, India -- Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) require a whole lot of transparency in the online domain in order to grow their business predictively without any unforeseen pitfalls. This was the fundamental sentiment expressed by speakers at a seminar on “SME Vulnerability & Resilience in the Online Economy”, organised by CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC) at The Leela, Sahar, Mumbai today. The seminar was attended by senior industry professionals and representatives of consumer organisations and government.

Need for greater transparency

Speaking at the event, Mr Mahendra Swarup, Chairman of the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (Icomp) India chapter, and President of the Indian Venture Capitalist Association (IVCA), said: “Since internet usage is driving both small and big businesses in India today, it is imperative for users to know what they are clicking on and why. Transparency and justifiable perceptions are important components of a healthy growth of internet in India. The CIRC initiative achieves a major objective in this direction.”

One News Page case study: Obscure, erroneous penalisation by Google

A case in point was highlighted by Dr Marc Pinter-Krainer, CEO of UK based news aggregation portal, One News Page. Demonstrating the adverse effects, caused by an erroneous penalisation of his portal by Google, Pinter-Krainer cautioned internet businesses in India against staying oblivious to the reality of non-transparent policies of bigger players.

Marc Pinter-Krainer of One News Page amongst a panel of industry leaders in Mumbai, India
Marc Pinter-Krainer of One News Page (third from the left) joined a panel of industry leaders at a recent seminar organised by the CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC) in Mumbai, India

Growth of online market place in India

Tejas Karia, Partner at Amarchand Mangaldas, a leading law firm, outlined the legal and policy framework surrounding the online markets. He specifically highlighted “how after the enactment of IT Act, 2000, online market place has grown and has assumed a prominent place in commercial and social spheres.”

Regulatory burden

R Chandrasekhar of Consim Info, publishers of Bharatmatrimony.com, shared his first-hand experiences on how the regulatory burden affects a new enterprise and can lessen competitiveness significantly. He stressed on the futility of government regulations, that are formulated without giving proper consideration to specific SME concerns.

Lack of transparency

Bringing the SME perspective from experience, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, CTO of JustDial.com, underlined how SMEs are sometimes forced to make peace by unfair means due to lack of transparency in regulatory and policy process.

Search engine penalties - Notes to Editors

Search engine penalties are designed to restrict visibility of ‘illegitimate’ websites, such those involved in spamming.

But search engines can also inflict penalties accidentally and at present there is no way of confirming this with leading search engines, nor is there a provision for an effective appeals process - leaving concerned website owners in the dark.

About “Have I been penalized..?”

The new “Have I been penalized..?” campaign at www.haveibeenpenalized.com asks leading search engines such as Google to introduce three transparency measures on penalties.

1. First, to bring in a simple mechanism that tells the site owner that they have suffered a search penalty

2. Second, to establish a communication mechanism which allows site owners to find out more about the nature of the penalty

3. Third, to instigate a fast and efficient appeals process if site owners wish to challenge the penalty

The campaign is spearheaded by One News Page, an online news navigator which suffered a nine-month Google penalty, causing a 96% fall in Google organic visitor traffic to its site.

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Internet Users Don't Like Paid Ads Along With Search Results
Indo Asian News Service, 16 November 2011

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Internet users in India do not like advertisements mixed with search results and found paid links less useful in regard to the information they were looking for, a study said Wednesday.

'Paid advertising getting interspersed with natural search results is not quite what users want,' said the study conducted by the CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC).

The study which was conducted in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Jaipur among 500 respondents also said that almost one-third of the respondents surveyed clicked on the top ads, which accrue revenues for the search engine.

Nearly half the respondents stated they would never or hardly ever click on search results that they knew were ads. While more than two-thirds of respondents felt that natural search results are more useful than ads.

While a negligible one percent clicked on the side ad bar on the search results page.

The survey also said that top ads appeared on 90 percent of search result pages adding that more than half of the respondents were unable to identify the top ad bar correctly.

About 31 percent of respondents were unaware that search engines also promote their own content alongside other websites and services. Almost half of them did not prefer search engines doing so.

'The unattended issues emanating from the online markets, which affect consumers and small and medium enterprises alike, required primary research. This survey is a product of this demand,' said Navneet Sharma, director, CUTS Institute of Regulation and Competition.

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High user distrust of ads blending in online search results in India: survey
Global India Newswire, November 13, 2011

NEW DELHI, A new study of Indian internet users has revealed that paid advertising getting interspersed with natural search results is not quite what users want.

While a lot of research has been done on user perception about search in Europe and the United States, this is the first time a study of this nature brings in a data-driven India perspective about internet search.

India’s internet user base has already crossed the 100 million mark recently, riding on a telecom boom and is tipped to become the world’s third-largest internet market after China and the United States by December 2011.

The pioneering study, conducted by the CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC), in the two metros of Delhi NCR and Mumbai, apart from Jaipur, throws up interesting user perceptions about search engines and search results. The study was conducted among 500 respondents, almost equitably divided among the three cities.

CIRC is a subsidiary of Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, an NGO with presence in Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and India.

More than two-thirds of the respondents interviewed for the survey were active internet users, who accessed the internet more than seven times a week, all of whom used online search. According to the study findings, while the preference of web browsers was almost equally split among Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, all respondents preferred Google as their search engine. This highlights the level of faith users have in Google’s brand and search technology.

About 31 percent of the respondents were unaware that search engines also promote their own content alongside other websites and services, while half of them did not prefer search engines doing so. Almost 64 percent of the respondents were aware that search engines capture user data from their searches, while 29 percent felt it was wrong, and wanted to switch search engines upon knowing this.

Almost one-third of the respondents clicked on the top ads, which accrue revenues for the search engine, but only a negligible 1 percent clicked on the side ad bar on the search results page. In the survey experiments, top ads appeared on 90 percent of search result pages on Google.com.

More than half of the respondents were unable to identify the top ad bar correctly. A comparatively lower 36percent were unable to identify the side ad bar on a search result page. Almost two-thirds of the respondents in Jaipur were unable to spot the difference between natural search results and paid results. Nearly half the respondents stated they would never or hardly ever click on search results that they knew were ads.

More than two-thirds of respondents felt that natural search results are more useful than ads. Less than 30 percent of the respondents considered ads as trustworthy as natural results. Over 40 percent felt they should not appear above natural results. The survey concluded that there is a need for enhancing awareness on the science of search monetization, and for more transparency in search results, from a consumer trust perspective.

Chairing the event, Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, said: “The exponential growth in the online market space has thrown new and complex regulatory challenges to the government in general and the CCI in particular.”

Mehta highlighted the role of transparency and democracy in policies and conducts of dominant players in online markets. Continued growth, Mehta felt, of the online market, will depend on a reasoned regulatory response.

Presenting the findings of the study, Dr. Navneet Sharma, Director of the CUTS Institute of Regulation and Competition, said: “The unattended issues emanating from the online markets, which affect consumers and SMEs alike, required primary research. This survey is a product of this demand.”

“The effects of the market conducts in the online space are yet to be understood on account of the complexities in the online ecosystem,” said A.K. Chauhan, Director-General of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), releasing the survey report at a seminar here on Friday. “The determination of the relevant market, both product and geographical, along with assessment of a dominant position, would require very sophisticated analysis. The findings of the pioneering survey will provide useful insights.”

Speaking at the event, founder and CEO of UK-based OneNewsPage.com, Dr. Marc Pinter-Krainer, shared his experiences about the evolution and monetisation of search results over the past 10 years. Corroborating the findings of the study, Dr. Pinter-Krainer said: “Over the past 10 years, a significant rift has formed between what consumers perceive about what they see in search results and what is actually displayed to them.

Particularly on Google, relevant organic search results are being increasingly replaced by advertisements and Google’s own services – often without the user realising it. There is an urgent need for greater transparency.”

Director-General (Policy) and Chief Economist of Nasscom, Anupam Khanna, underlined the importance of networks in online markets.

“The purpose of regulation in a multi-sided market requires thorough considerations on parameters such as market failures, consumer protection, tax and fiscal reasons etc,” Khanna said. (Global India Newswire)

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