Brussels scrutinizes Google’s advertising practices

Google is under a “very extensive survey“on its activities in online advertising, said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition and Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, as quoted by Bloomberg.

No official announcement

We will use all the tools at our disposal (…) to ensure that the market is fair“, she added. On the other hand, the official opening of an investigation has not yet been announced.

Brussels has already been investigating the Mountain View firm since December 2019 for its practices in collecting and using user data. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has upset certain practices, would justify extending the investigations to online advertising, according to the commissioner.

A fine of 1.49 billion euros

In fact, the Commission has been interested for several years in the behavior of Google for its monopoly position as an intermediary between advertisers and publishers via its auction system. This device allows it to arrogate to itself very large margins. The European institution has also imposed a fine of 1.49 billion euros in 2018 for similar allegations.

Google is already involved in many surveys. Since January 2021, the Autorité de la concurrence has been investigating its advertising practices, following a complaint filed by News Corporation, a media and information services company which publishes in particular The Sunday Mail, Fiji Times, The Sun, The New York Post… Google is also in the sights of the Chinese authorities.

Investigations multiply in the United States

But it is especially in the United States that the procedures explode. In September 2019, an antitrust investigation was launched by 50 American attorneys general, to which must be added a procedure led by the Department of Justice and 11 states as well as a third headed by 7 states.

Most recently, in December, Texas and nine other states in the United States filed lawsuits against the company. In their sights, a secret agreement concluded between Google and Facebook so that the former can maintain its leading position in the field of online advertising. A few days later, the attorneys general of 38 states engaged and announced that they had filed an appeal against Google and its practices deemed antitrust on its search engine activity.

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