Brussels does not ease the pressure on big techs. The European Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into Google to determine whether it has favored its online display advertising technology services at the expense of other online providers, advertisers and publishers.
The Silicon Valley multinational has the record for the highest fines received by the European Commission regarding competition.
The North American group paid 8,240 million euros between 2017 and 2019.
Now a new investigation has begun to see if the company is “distorting the competition” by restricting companies’ access to user data on websites and applications for advertising purposes in order to reserve that information for their own use.
Margrethe Vestager, Head of European Competition Policy, said that “online advertising services are the basis of how Google and publishers monetize their online services. Google collects data to use it for specific advertising purposes, sells advertising space and also acts as a as an advertising broker. Therefore, Google is present at almost every level of the online display advertising supply chain. “
Most publishers with online display advertising finance free content on the Internet. An example of this type of visually aided ads are banners.
Brussels estimated that display advertising spending in Europe was € 20 billion in 2019 alone.
“A level playing field is essential for everyone in the supply chain. Fair competition is important, both for advertisers to reach consumers on publisher sites and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers to generate revenue and finance for content, ”Vestager said.
The general manager of Google in Spain and Portugal, Fuencisla Clemares, has instead argued that “the advertising services of his company work in an absolutely competitive way and to prove it we will work with the Commission”.
“We have thousands of customers – Clemares said – who use our advertising solutions because they allow them to reach all over the world. We are also becoming bigger and more successful, and it is normal that there is more control over us and over. everything we do “.
The survey will focus on display advertising in various services that Google provides to both advertisers and publishers. In particular, Brussels wants to examine: the obligation to use the services of Google Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Google Ads to buy display ads on YouTube; use Google Ad Manager to publish advertisements on YouTube; the alleged favoritism of Google AdX by DV360 and Google Ads; the restrictions imposed by Google on third parties to access data on the identity and behavior of the user, available for the advertising intermediation services of the technological giant; the company’s plans to ban third-party cookies on Chrome and the group’s announcement to stop making the advertising identifier available to third parties on smartphones.
The Commission has more cases open against big techs. The last was to determine whether Facebook has violated community rules by using its advertisers’ data and whether the platform is linking its ad services with the social network. Brussels also recently concluded an investigation against Amazon, which it accused of having “systematically” used the private data of the sellers who use the platform to the advantage of their commercial strategy. Finally, Apple is also on the Brussels radar for abuse of dominance in distributing music download apps through the App Store, charging fees that penalize companies like Spotify. And the war continues.