The European Commission has filed an official antitrust complaint against Google and its advertising business. In a preliminary opinion, the regulator claims that the company is abusing its dominant position in the digital advertising market. This was reported by The Verge.
The document says forcing Google to sell part of its business could be its only remedy if the company is found guilty of the charges.
“Our preliminary concern is that Google may have used its market position to favor its own intermediation services,” Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said in a statement.
We take issue with Google favouring its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers.
Our preliminary view is that Google may have breached EU antitrust rules by… pic.twitter.com/rhuTC4fU80
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) June 14, 2023
In its preliminary findings, the Commission notes that the tech giant has been abusing its dominant position since at least 2014 in favor of its own advertising platform.
“The Commission is concerned that Google’s allegedly intentional conducts aimed at giving [Google’s ad exchange] AdX a competitive advantage and may have foreclosed rival ad exchanges. This would have reinforced Google’s AdX central role in the adtech supply chain and Google’s ability to charge a high fee for its service,” the EC press release said.
The company will now have the opportunity to submit a written response and request a hearing, after which the Commission will decide whether Google violated antitrust laws in the bloc. If found guilty, the EU antitrust regulator can also fine Google up to 10% of global sales and impose various changes in its business.
Google disagrees with the position of the European Commission and considers digital advertising to be a highly competitive sector.
“Our advertising technology tools help websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers,” said Google’s VP Dan Taylor. “The Commission’s investigation focuses on a narrow aspect of our advertising business and is not new. We disagree with the EC’s view and we will respond accordingly.”
We will remind you that for the first time, the EU launched an investigation of Google’s advertising technologies in 2021. The commission is looking into how the company could have prevented competitors from accessing user data for online advertising, as well as how it could have locked away the data for its own use.