Google Under Investigation in EU for Competition Practice
June 28, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

The European Union has started an investigation against Google for possible ‘anti-competitive’ practices. European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager has said of the investigation “Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetise their online services. Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack. A level playing field is of the essence for everyone in the supply chain. Fair competition is important – both for advertisers to reach consumers on publishers’ sites and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers, to generate revenues and funding for content. We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition.

Multiple Trust Issues

According to Reuters, the company’s online advertising business generated $147 billion on revenue for Google in 2020.

The company is also facing a similar anti-trust investigation in the US. In 2020, the Justice Department of US filed a suit against the company for ‘illegal monopolisation of the search and ad markets’. It’s one of the largest antitrust cases in US history. Earlier this year, Google settled an anti-trust investigation in France and paid around $270 million in fines. It has also come under the scanner for its competition practices in Britain, Australia, Turkey, and Russia.

What is the point of focus in this investigation

The European Commission has said that it will focus on the following

  • The obligation to use Google’s services Display & Video 360 (‘DV360′) and/or Google Ads to purchase online display advertisements on YouTube.
  • The obligation to use Google Ad Manager to serve online display advertisements on YouTube, and potential restrictions placed by Google on the way in which services competing with Google Ad Manager are able to serve online display advertisements on YouTube.
  • The apparent favouring of Google’s ad exchange “AdX” by DV360 and/or Google Ads and the potential favouring of DV360 and/or Google Ads by AdX.
  • The restrictions placed by Google on the ability of third parties, such as advertisers, publishers or competing online display advertising intermediaries, to access data about user identity or user behaviour which is available to Google’s own advertising intermediation services, including the Doubleclick ID.
  • Google’s announced plans to prohibit the placement of third party ‘cookies’ on Chrome and replace them with the “Privacy Sandbox” set of tools, including the effects on online display advertising and online display advertising intermediation markets.
  • Google’s announced plans to stop making the advertising identifier available to third parties on Android smart mobile devices when a user opts out of personalised advertising, and the effects on online display advertising and online display advertising intermediation markets.

Google has said it will work with the Commission and a spokesperson said, Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. They choose them because they’re competitive and effective”

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