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The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S2992)

Legislators have introduced this bill in response to broad concerns about tech giants prioritizing their own products and services, therefore acting in an anti-competitive fashion. The bill is aimed at the major tech players Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Within the evolving dialog both in support and against the bill, is a critical concern that the companies to be most affected aren’t the tech giants but rather small and medium-sized businesses that sustain the American economy.

Supporters of this bill argue that they are helping small businesses by eliminating large platforms’ ability for “self-preferencing.” In its current state, however, the bill may limit digital tools that are essential to the success of small businesses. What might this mean for businesses using Google’s digital tools in particular?

Google offers free Business Profile services to businesses, which gives them the ability to provide relevant operational information, including their location, hours, and more. Google Business Profiles allow businesses to control the information presented in these placements, which are displayed at the top-right of the Google SERP. This feature is how most customers gather critical information about businesses and disruption to this placement will force users to hunt for the information they need, and that information might not be coming directly from the business. Businesses can also use Business Profiles to interact with their customers by responding to reviews and making sure they have correct information about the business.

Currently, Google can give preference to these listings in combination with Google Search and Google Maps. Businesses using this free and powerful service assume that Google likely will not put third-party information, reviews, maps, etc. in these profiles and that Google will not put third-party information in a more favorable position on the SERP. If the American Innovation and Choice Online Act is passed, Google Search could no longer give preference to Google Business Profiles that businesses and customers rely on. Small businesses would lose the value and benefits they currently receive from this platform.

In its current iteration, this bill could undermine small and medium-sized businesses that rely on Google and other digital platforms and their tools for success. These services will likely become less user-friendly, less effective, and more expensive. Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer at Google, issued this statement warning of the potential consequences of legislation like this bill. Google also provided this tool to take action to support small businesses and send a message to Congress urging them to consider how this bill could negatively affect small businesses.

KME.digital will continue to monitor the status of legislation like this, as arguments evolve and potential impacts become more clear for our community of businesses and partners.

Let us help you stay on top of your digital presence! Contact our DC digital marketing experts at (703) 585-3321 today.

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