Are New Google EU Local Results DMA Compliant?

It has been several weeks since Google introduced new EU local search results to comply with the Digital Markets Act’s Article 6(5). Article 6(5) requires that gatekeepers not treat their own products “more favourably, in ranking and related indexing and crawling, services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself than similar services or products of a third party” and that gatekeepers “apply transparent, fair and non-discriminatory conditions to such ranking.” Google tends to change search results in response to user inputs so I was curious if what we’re seeing last week is still holding true.

There are numerous subtle and not so subtle changes that don’t appear to benefit third parties (publishers, directories).

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Using NordVPN we took a peak at results for Paris for “free tasting near me.” Note several things about the results shared in the video below. Most obvious is that the Places 3-Pack (aka Local Pack) now ranks above “Places Sites.”

Places Sites (who brands this stuff?) were the accommodation that Google made to be “non-discriminatory.” Last week when we looked, Places Sites were ranked in the top organic spot but now have slipped below the Local Pack. Like all universal results, Google freely re-ranks them based on user interactions and demand. The DMA accommodation was not so big a change as to always position the third party carousel above the Local Pack. This dynamic re-positioning is also happening in restaurant and hotel searches. Note that some of the pages listed in the Places Sites carousel do not include images, putting those directories at a disadvantage amongst the 10 web pages in the carousel.

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