Google’s position has long been a source of concern among competition and news publishers, who say it gives the company unfair information on advertising prices, inventory and data that others cannot match.
Among the companies that complained to French Google authorities were News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal and critic of the company’s ad technology, and French publisher Rossel La Voix Group, the competition authority said. Businesses have argued that Google’s power is so powerful that it can squeeze a higher share of each ad sale without paying content creation costs. News organizations have argued that this economic imbalance contributed to the decline of their businesses and the reduction of newsrooms.
The French authorities focused on the links between Google’s market for ad auction, called AdX, and another service, called Ad Manager, which publishers use to sell space on websites for advertising purposes. The French competition authority said that Google shared the pricing information collected from Ad Manager to give its auction product an edge.
“These very serious practices penalized competition in the emerging online advertising market and have allowed Google not only to preserve but also to increase its dominant position,” said Isabelle de Silva, president of the French competition authority.
Google did not admit to being wrong in the deal, but the case may show how the company could appease regulators elsewhere. Google agreed to make more data available to its rivals and to make it easier for them to use its online advertising services.
An independent monitor, paid for by Google, will also be responsible for ensuring that the company complies with the terms of the agreement. The order is mandatory for three years in France, although Google said it could enforce some of the policy changes elsewhere.
“While we believe that we offer valuable services and compete on merit, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products.” Maria Gomri, Legal Director of Google France wrote in a blog post.