- The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia issued an order to Yandex to stop providing advantages to its services in search.
- The FAS have also told Yandex they need to publish documentation for the terms of service access to search promotion opportunities, and provide this access for everyone.
- Yandex have disagreed with the ruling, and claim no advantages are given to Yandex services.
February 24 2021 Part 1
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia issued an order to Yandex to stop providing advantages to its services in search. This is stated in the decision of the antimonopoly department of February 20.
The aforementioned ruling has 4 key components that Yandex must adhere to (outside of response times/ackownledgements).
The key highlights are that:
- This applies to Vertical, Market, Media Services, and Kino.
- It highlights elements that “attract the users attention” as being the issue… E.g. Featured Snippets, Panels
- Section 4 specifically highlights interactive answers.
- Yandex must publish documentation around how to achieve these special content areas, regardless if they are a part of the Yandex family of companies
- They include interactive responses and (or) other applicable functions as signs of user distraction
Yandex were given 3 days to respond, and that they have to implement sections 1-4 within a month (March 24th deadline), with updates to the FAS every 10 days on progress.
February 24 2021 Part 1
In response, Yandex have refuted these anti-competitive claims, and believes that adhering to these guidelines will worsen the quality of search.
In a response covered by TASS, Yandex have stated that:
We do not agree with the FAS warning. Some requirements of the prescription have already been implemented in the search, but we consider some important parts of it to be incorrect. Fulfillment of all of the above requirements will worsen the quality of search for the user, which means the position of Yandex’s search on the market compared to competitors.
Without special answers, which are found in all search engines in the world, the search quality becomes worse for the user. The prescription is unfair as it only targets one player. At the same time, the search share of Yandex, for example, on iOS is less than 50%, “the press service added.
They also clarified that no service of Yandex or another company has any priorities, the display is based on a specific and transparent metric of usefulness to the user. And users can see interactive extended answers not related to Yandex services, for example, from Wikipedia, Amediateka, or the Yula service.
Currently, interactive responses are shown for more than 70 thousand sites in Yandex search results, including online stores, news resources, and others.
Past History Between Yandex & FAS
In August 202, online services ivi, Avito, CIAN, Profi.ru, Tutu.ru, Drom.ru, 2GIS and Zoon sent a complaint to the FAS about Yandex’s abuse of its dominant position.
The main complaint of these companies is that special search engine widgets (“wizards”) are most often displayed above other search results and allow users to search for tickets, ads, movies and more without going to a separate page.
According to the companies, only Yandex services can get there, and such a tool does not show the most suitable query result, attracting the user’s attention and leading them to Yandex services, which leads to the loss of traffic from competitors.
Yandex, for its part, stated that widgets are an international industry standard, they are not fixed in the first positions by default and have no advantages over regular search results.
The FAS are yet to comment on Yandex’s rebuttal, and presumably talks are going on behind closed doors. We will update the site with a part 2 when more information is known.