Position Paper on Ranking Transparency Guidelines

From 12 July 2020, the Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (P2B Regulation) shall apply. This Regulation requires online intermediation services, such as ecommerce marketplaces, to set out in their terms and conditions the main parameters determining ranking and the reasons for the relative importance of those main parameters as opposed to other parameters. To help online intermediation services understand this obligation, the Commission has to produce guidelines. To seek input from stakeholders to help prepare these guidelines the Commission organised at the end of last year two workshops bringing together providers of online e-commerce marketplaces with business users. Enterprise Director Luc Hendrickx, who participated in the workshops, asked the Commission to call on the platforms to already applying the regulation. As a follow-up to the workshops SMEunited published its Position Paper on ranking Transparency Guidelines for Platforms. The position stresses that the relative weight, or at least the relative importance of each criteria which have a significative impact on ranking should be communicated. On the weighting of the most important parameters, the entire ranking result must be comprehensible on the basis of the most important parameters.

As it is also common practice for online booking platforms to set parameters over which companies have little or no influence, such parameters should not influence the "ranking", or if so, then this must be clearly recognisable.

The guidelines should also stress that information has to be given to companies and customers when a new algorithm is tested and this test leads to distorted search results. Even though SMEunited regrets that direct and indirect remuneration have such a high impact on ranking, which reduces the visibility of micro-enterprises as they cannot contribute as much as bigger companies, it is important to underline that every possibility of improvement of ranking through direct or indirect remuneration should be mentioned in a visible and accessible way on the search engines provider’s or platform’s website. Finally as online reviews are part of the criteria to build ranking, it is crucial to reinforce their liability.

Resource

Access the Policy document

Position Paper on Ranking Transparency Guidelines
SME United (2020). Position Paper on Ranking Transparency Guidelines

Metadata

  • EU28
  • 2020
  • Policy document
  • algorithm, information asymmetry
  • English
  • Open access
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