Google’s ad tech services hit by formal EU antitrust investigation

The European Commission stated today that it has launched a formal antitrust inquiry into Google to see if the search giant favors its own online display advertising technology over competitors. The probe will also look at whether Google is unfairly restricting competitors’ access to user data.

It’s a significant probe since it involves Google’s core internet advertising business, which produced $147 billion in revenue last year, according to Reuters. According to Bloomberg, this is the first time the EU has looked at Google’s online display advertising business, in which the company acts as a middleman between advertisers and publishers to fill ad space on websites and mobile apps.

“Google collects data for the aim of targeted advertising, sells ad space, and functions as an online advertising intermediary. According to the European Commission’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, “Google is present at practically all stages of the supply chain for online display advertising.” “We are concerned that Google has made it more difficult for competitors in the so-called ad tech stack to compete.”

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“We’ll also be looking at Google’s user tracking practices to make sure they’re compliant with fair competition,” Vestager said.

The European Commission is looking into many of Google’s advertising practices, including forcing advertisers to use its own Ad Manager to display ads on YouTube and allegedly favoring its own ad exchanges. Google’s intentions to phase away third-party cookies in Chrome as part of its “Privacy Sandbox” initiatives, as well as forthcoming changes to advertising IDs on Android, will be investigated.

The formal probe comes as Google is being investigated for antitrust violations in the United States. The US Justice Department filed antitrust charges against the business in October, arguing that it has an illegal monopoly on the search and advertising sectors.

The investigation is the EU’s most recent antitrust case against Google. Google’s online retail services, Android regulations, and AdSense contracts have all been the subject of previous probes. According to Reuters, the EU has penalized Google about €8 billion (around $9.5 billion) in the last decade for numerous antitrust infractions.

Google stated that it would work with the European Commission “constructively.” It stated in a statement that “thousands of European businesses use our advertising products every day to reach new customers and fund their websites.” “They pick them because they’re cost-effective and competitive.” Many of the largest advertisers use up to four platforms to buy advertisements, according to Google, and its technologies are compatible with 700 competing ad platforms and 80 competing publishing platforms.

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