Google fined by France for abusing its position in online advertising

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google LLC, speaks during the Google Cloud Next ’19 event in San Francisco, California, USA, on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | fake images

France’s competition watchdog fined Google 220 million euros ($ 268 million) on Monday for abusing its market power in the online advertising industry.

The French Competition Authority said Google had unfairly sent business to its own services and discriminated against competitors. Google agreed to pay the fine and end some of its self-preference practices, the watchdog said.

The investigation found that Google gave preferential treatment to its DFP ad server, which allows site and app publishers to sell their ad space, and to its SSP AdX listing platform, which organizes auction processes and allows publishers to sell. your “impressions” or advertising inventory. to advertisers. Google’s rivals and publishers suffered as a result, the regulator said.

Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority, said in a statement that the decision is the first in the world “to look at the complex algorithmic auction processes through which the ‘display’ of online advertising operates.”

It added that the investigation revealed processes by which Google favored itself over its competitors on advertising servers and supply-side platforms, which are pieces of software used by publishers to manage, sell, and optimize ad space on their websites. websites and mobile applications.

“These very serious practices have penalized competition in the emerging online advertising market and have allowed Google not only to preserve but also to increase its dominant position,” said de Silva.

“This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to restore equal conditions for all actors and the ability of publishers to make the most of their advertising space.”

Google announced in a blog on Monday that it will make a series of changes to its ad technology.

“We recognize the role that ad technology plays in supporting access to content and information and we are committed to working collaboratively with regulators and investing in new products and technologies that give publishers more choice and better results when using our platforms. ”Wrote Maria Gomri. , Legal Director of Google France.

The investigation came after the US-based News Corp, the French newspaper Le Figaro and the Belgian press group Rossel filed a complaint against Google.

Regulators across Europe are cracking down on major US tech giants amid concerns that they wield too much power over the bloc’s more than 700 million citizens.

Last week, Facebook was affected by antitrust investigations by regulators in the UK and Europe.

The European Commission has launched investigations into Amazon, Google and Microsoft in recent years, while the UK Competition and Markets Authority has also launched investigations into Google and Apple since it became an independent regulator in its own right in January after Britain’s departure from the EU.

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