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Google Fined €220 Million for Abusing Dominant Role in Online Ads

Google Fined €220 Million for Abusing Dominant Role in Online Ads

The French competition authority has fined Google €220 million for abusing its dominant position in online advertising and favoring its services to the disadvantage of its publishers and competitors.

The investigation into Google’s unfair digital advertising practices started after a complaint from News Corp Inc., Le Figaro group (which withdrew its complaint in November), and the Rossel La Voix group.

According to the French regulator, Google favored its Google Ad Manager tech used to operate the DFP ad server and the SSP AdX sales platform, which allow publishers to sell ad space on their sites and auction impressions to advertisers, respectively.

Google did not dispute the French watchdog’s allegations and settled the antitrust case agreeing to pay the fine and promising to “improve the interoperability of Google Ad Manager services with third-party ad server and advertising space sales platform solutions and end provisions that favour Google.”

“These very serious practices penalised competition in the emerging online advertising market, and allowed Google not only to maintain but also to increase its dominant position,” said Isabelle de Silva, president of France’s competition regulator.

“This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to re-establish a level playing field for all players, and the ability for publishers to make the most of their advertising space.”

Also Read: Compliance Course Singapore: Spotlight on the 3 Offerings

Google promises to do better

Google has responded to the €220 million (roughly $267 million) fine by promising to increase access to data, flexibility, and transparency.

“While we believe we offer valuable services and compete on the merits, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products,” said Maria Gomri, Legal Director at Google France.

“That’s why, as part of an overall resolution of the FCA’s investigation, we have agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies.

“We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally.”

The French competition authority has accepted Google’s commitments making them binding as part of its decision in the case.

It also underlined that Google’s dominant position in digital advertising also comes with the “particular responsibility [..] to an effective and undistorted competition.”

The European Commission previously fined Google $1.7 billion in March 2019 for abusing market dominance to block advertising competitors from displaying search ads on publishers’ search results pages.

Also Read: PDPA Singapore Guidelines: 16 Key Concepts For Your Business

One year earlier, in June 2017, the European Commission hit Google with another record fine of $2.72 billion for abusing its dominant market position to tweak search results favoring the Google Shopping service to the detriment of direct competitors.



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