The agency in charge of overseeing fair competition in France has found that Google’s ad management platform, Google Ad Manager, has been unfairly promoting its own services over those of its competition.
Google has responded by promising to review and make changes to its advertising program.
According to the competition watchdog, Google’s ad management platform, Google Ad Manager, provided its online ad marketplace, Google AdX, with key data that it was not offering up to its competitors. AdX also enjoyed special access to strategic data about advertisers on Google’s ad services.
Additionally, it was discovered that AdX more easily integrated and shared data with Google’s Ad Manager than it did with its competitors’ ad management platforms.
Chief of France’s Competition Authority, Isabelle de Silva, said, “The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies.”
The Competition Authority initiated an investigation into allegations of Google abusing its advertising power in 2019 following complaints from three press groups: News Corp, Le Figaro, and Rossel.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire: “The practices put in place by Google to favor its own advertising technologies have affected press groups, whose business model is heavily dependent on ad revenues. These are serious practices and they have been rightly sanctioned.”
Google has been slapped with heavy fines for breaking European advertising laws before. In 2019, it was fined €1.49 billion for blocking rival online search advertisers. It was hit with a €50 million fine in 2019 for breaching EU’s data protection laws. In 2018, the EU Commission fined Google €4.34 billion for exploiting its Android devices to strengthen its search engine’s dominance. And in 2017, Google was fined €2.42 billion for giving its own comparison shopping service an illegal advantage in its search results
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