EU launches antitrust investigation into Google advertising technology

The European Commission has open an antitrust investigation into Google’s alleged competition law violation through its advertising technology policies. Regulators, who have spent the past two years informally consulting on the investigation, will now assess whether Google is promoting its own services by restricting rivals’ access to user data for advertising purposes.

As part of the wide-ranging investigation, the Commission will examine Google’s display and video advertising on YouTube, the ad management platform and the inventory market of Google Ad Manager and AdX, as well as the restrictions user data that it imposes on third parties, including online advertising competitors. , publishers and general advertisers. Regulators will also review Google’s decision to end individual user tracking on Chrome and Android as part of its Privacy sandbox changes.

“Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetize their online services,” said Margrethe Vestager, EU chief antitrust officer. “We are concerned that Google has made it more difficult for competing online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad technology stack.”

As the Commission notes, there is no statutory deadline for concluding an antitrust case. Ultimately, this means that an investigation that has been informally in the making for two years could take just as long to reach its climax. If it turns out that Google has violated antitrust rules, it will face fines and appeals. However, not for the first time.

The EU already has fine Google for abusive advertising practices three times between 2015 and 2018. The web giant’s Privacy Sandbox is also under investigation UK.

Google has said it will work with the EC to illustrate the benefits of its advertising products for businesses and the public. “Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every day,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “They choose them because they are competitive and efficient. We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers.

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