EU antitrust regulators charge Google on anti-competitive adtech practices

EU antitrust regulators charge Google on anti-competitive adtech practices
Google CEO Sundar Pichai visits KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, 23 May 2023. EPA-EFE/Claudio Bresciani SWEDEN OUT

Alphabet's GOOGL.O Google was charged by EU antitrust regulators with anti-competitive practices in its digital advertising business on Wednesday and may have to sell part of this business to address their concerns.

The European Commission set out its charges in a statement of objections, two years after it opened an investigation into the case.

“The Commission takes issue with Google favouring its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers,” the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.

It said Google has since 2014 abused its dominance by favouring its own ad exchange AdX in the ad selection auction by its dominant publisher ad server DFP and also by favouring its ad exchange AdX in the way its ad buying tools Google Ads and DV360 place bids on ad exchanges.

The EU competition watchdog said a behavioural remedy is unlikely to be effective to stop the anti-competitive practices.

“The Commission’s preliminary view is therefore that only the mandatory divestment by Google of part of its services would address its competition concerns,” it said.

Google is the most dominant digital advertising platform in the world with a 28% market share of global ad revenue, according to research firm Insider Intelligence.

Its 2022 advertising revenues, which include those from its search services, Gmail, Google Play, Google Maps, YouTube adverts, Google Ad Manager, AdMob and AdSense, amounted to $224.5 billion, accounting for 79% of its total revenues.

Google had sought to settle the case three months after the EU watchdog opened its investigation but regulators subsequently grew frustrated with the slow pace and the lack of substantial concessions, a person familiar with the matter had told Reuters.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee;Editing by Philip Blenkinsop/Sudip Kar-Gupta)


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