Brussels opens new investigation into Google advertising activity

As mentioned previously, the European Commission announced on Tuesday June 22, 2021 that it had opened an investigation into Google’s advertising practices. The European gendarme is investigating whether the company broke competition rules to promote its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of service providers, advertisers and publishers.

Did Google promote its own services?
From data collection, to the sale of advertising space through the provision of intermediary services in online advertising, Google is “present at almost every level of the supply chain with regard to online display advertising”commented Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President responsible for competition policy at the Commission. A presence that would allow it to easily limit the access of its competitors.

The European policeman will in particular study Google’s plan to prohibit the placement of third-party cookies on Chrome in order to replace them with the ‘Privacy Sandbox’ toolset; its plan to no longer make the advertising identifier available to third parties on devices equipped with Android when a user renounces personalized advertising; the restrictions imposed by Google with regard to the ability of third parties (advertisers, publishers or intermediaries) to access data relating to the identity or behavior of users that are available for its own services.

A profitable market
These accusations against Google are not new. The Mountain View firm was sentenced on this subject by the French Competition Authority to a fine of 220 million euros in early June. In response, Google has undertaken to put an end to the provisions that would promote Google Ad and to propose commitments aimed at modifying the way in which its advertising service DFP operates and its platform to sell AdX.

In Europe, spending on display advertising amounted to around 20 billion euros in 2019. For Google, the advertising sector generates a large part of its turnover since the company made 147 billion dollars in revenue from online advertising in 2020.

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