Google close to settling investigation launched by watchdogs over claims it abused its power in online advertising
Google is close to settling an investigation launched by watchdogs over claims it abused its power in online advertising, it was claimed yesterday.
The search engine giant is expected to pay a fine and introduce changes to the way its online advertising auction system operates, claimed the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The French competition authority launched an investigation into claims that Google’s tool to help websites and apps sell adverts gave its own online ad auction system an advantage over its rivals.
A good sign?: Google has offered to improve its ‘interoperability’ with advertising servers run by other firms and remove other obstacles faced by its competitors to settle the investigation
The tech giant has offered to improve its ‘interoperability’ with advertising servers run by other firms and remove other obstacles faced by its competitors to settle the investigation, the WSJ reported.
If approved by the competition authority’s board, the deal could be announced in weeks and would be binding only in France. But it could add to pressure for the firm to settle similar actions in other jurisdictions. Last year Texas, backed by other US states, filed a lawsuit against Google accusing it of breaking antitrust law in how it runs its online advertising business.
The firm is also facing cases in the US from several advertisers, publishers including the Daily Mail’s owner Associated Newspapers, and rival businesses around similar issues.
An investigation by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority resulted in the launch two months ago of a regulator, the Digital Markets Unit, to ensure fair competition in digital advertising.
Google’s advertising business generated £104bn in revenue last year, more than any other internet company.
Most of its sales came from search and YouTube ads. But last year £16billion was generated by its digital advertising business, which services both advertisers and publishers.
Its advertising server – historically known as Doubleclick For Publishers (DFP) – is used by most large online publishers to sell advertising space. As part of its investigation, the competition regulator in France said DFP gave Google’s online advertising auction house, AdX, an advantage against other auction operators, the WSJ reported.
The French competition authority declined to comment on any ongoing case and it has not released details of its investigation.
In December 2019, the same regulator fined Google €150m over abuse of its dominant position in the search advertising market.
It said the operating rules of the Google Ads advertising platform were ‘opaque and difficult to understand’ and were applied in an unfair and random manner.
Google made no comment over the WSJ report that it was about to settle, but said its third-party products worked with both its own partners’ products and those of its competitors. A spokesman said: ‘We continue to take in feedback and make updates to better serve users.’