Brussels launches antitrust investigation into Google’s digital ad technology practices

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has opened a new antitrust investigation into Google to determine whether the US multinational is abusing its position when it comes to online digital advertising technologies.

The Commission said the investigation will assess “whether Google has violated EU competition rules by favoring online display ad technology services in the so-called ‘ad technology’ supply chain, to the detriment of competing ad technology providers, advertisers and online.” Publishers”.

It will focus on whether the company is stifling competition by restricting access to user data for third parties for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while using that same data.

“Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetize their online services. Google collects data for use in targeted advertising purposes, sells ad space and also acts as an online advertising broker,” Margrethe Vestager, the committee’s executive vice president in charge of competition, said in a statement.

“So Google is present at nearly all levels of the online display advertising supply chain. We are concerned that Google has made it difficult for online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad technology stack.”

According to the Commission, spending on digital advertising in the European Union in 2019 amounted to about 20 billion euros.

A Google spokesperson told Euronews in a statement, “Thousands of European companies use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every day. They choose them because they are competitive and efficient.”

They added: “We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European companies and consumers.

Earlier this month, Google was fined €220 by France’s competition watchdog for favoring its own online advertising services. The company said at the time that it agreed with some of the watchdog’s recommendations and that it would make changes to its policy over the coming months.

Vestager has launched several antitrust investigations with tech giants over allegations of abuse of dominant positions, and imposed multiple fines on Google.

In March 2019, Brussels fined Google €1.49 billion for imposing restrictive clauses in contracts for third-party sites that prevent Google’s competitors from placing their own search ads on these sites.

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