EU opens antitrust investigation into Google ad activity

The European Union has announced an official investigation into Google’s advertising activity, to determine whether it has harmed competition by restricting or excluding its competitors from data and services.

Google, which generated nearly $147 billion in ad revenue last year, dominates the market and operates the leading ad buying and selling tools, as well as the largest market for online ad deals.

“Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising,” said Margrethe Vestager, EU Executive Vice President responsible for competition policy.

“We are concerned that Google has made it difficult for online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad technology stack.”

In particular, the the will to investigate Find out how Google insists that advertisers can only buy display ads on YouTube using its own tools.

The investigators also want to know whether Google’s tools favor the company’s ad exchange, the market in which deals are made, and whether competing services have access to data on how users interact with ads traded on Google’s exchange.

Vestager added that Brussels would investigate Google’s policies on user tracking “to ensure they are in line with fair competition”.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said it would consider “the need to protect user privacy” in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. “Competition law and data protection laws must work hand in hand to ensure that the display ad markets operate on a level playing field in which all market participants protect user privacy in the same way,” she added.

The investigation comes at a time when regulators in Europe and elsewhere are venturing into the intersection of privacy concerns and competition.

Last year, the French competition authority, for example, opened an investigation into Apple’s update of its privacy standards. The regulator did not force the company to refrain from implementing the changes.

The EU investigation into Google comes days after France The company was fined 220 million euros To exploit its dominant position in the advertising sector. Unlike Google’s three ongoing appeals against the European Union to the courts, Google said it would not appeal and agreed to some changes globally.

“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,” Google said.

The investigation comes as draft legislation to tame the power of big tech companies is being discussed in Brussels. The rules, expected to be enacted during the first half of 2022, will include legal requirements for tech companies to share their data with competitors to enable competition.

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