EU Antitrust Commission Opens Formal Inquest Into Google’s Digital Ad Tactics

EU Antitrust Commission Opens Formal Inquest Into Google’s Digital Ad Tactics

June 22, 2021 at 06:34PM

The European Commission (EC) has launched a formal investigation into Google’s digital advertising tactics, and will assess whether competition laws in the European Union (EU) were violated.

The move is looking to ascertain whether Google favored its own digital display advertising services in its ad tech supply chain as opposed to those of other advertisers and online publishers, according to a press release from the EU. The formal probe will take a deep dive into whether Google upended competition by closing third parties out of user data for advertising purposes and instead kept the information in-house for its own use. 

“Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetize 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,” Competition Policy Head Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president, said in the release. She added that the agency is troubled over Google’s activities, which could have made it difficult for competitors to go up against the search giant’s 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,” Vestager added.

The investigation into Google’s ad tech business is a priority that the EU is expecting to address before the end of the year. France closed out a similar probe that resulted in the tech giant being fined $268 million.

The U.S. has fought back against the EU’s push to regulate technology companies and has called such policies “anti-U.S.” Regarding the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the White House pointed to the EU as not “engaging in good faith.”