France has fined Google 220 million euros for antitrust abuse in advertising

French competition regulators have fined Google 220 million euros for abusing its dominant position in the online advertising market and have imposed changes to its operation in the country for three years.

The case presented in detail how Google dominates the world of online advertising, and could provide a blueprint for other ongoing lawsuits against Google by the United States such as Texas, and investigations by regulators into Brussels and countries such as the UK and Italy.

Google has said it will not appeal the findings of the case, and has said it will implement some of the remedies around the world, according to statement by the French Competition Authority.

“Google has used its vertically integrated business model in display advertising to gain an edge over other competitors,” Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority, said in a briefing Monday.

“This is the first survey in the world to examine the display advertising space where Google is dominant, and the first time Google has agreed to a deal. This case will be of interest to other regulators looking at the online advertising market and technology “.

The case began with a complaint in 2019 from News Corp, the French newspaper Le Figaro, and the Rossel Group of Belgium. Le Figaro decided to withdraw from the case in November 2020.

The researchers found that Google, which owns the main tools for buying and selling ads online, as well as the largest market for online ads, had linked its products together in a way that disadvantaged rivals.

In particular, they looked at the close relationship between Google’s AdX exchange, the market where ads are sold at auction, and Google’s Ad Manager, an advertising sales platform that was born out of the acquisition of $ 3.1 billion in DoubleClick in 2008.

They said Google had shared price information about rivals with the Ad Manager to help AdX gain an advantage over other auction houses. This “tilts the playing field,” Da Silva said.

Google said it will “increase the flexibility” of Ad Manager to “make it easier” for publishers and advertisers “to make use of data and use our tools with other advertising technologies.”

In a blog post, the company said it is committed to “increasing access to data” for users and underlined its commitment to being more transparent.

Damien Geradin, legal representative for News Corp., said the decision was “critically important” because it found Google in violation of EU rules through a series of anti-competitive tactics that the search giant did not contest. .

Geradin added that the decision will give “ammunition” to several competition authorities, including Brussels and the United States, where similar cases are open against Google.

He added: “The language used by the French decision is quite strident. The decision described the infringement as extremely serious. “

He said that while the end was on the “lower” side, the remedies are intended to ensure greater interoperability between Google’s ad server and ad exchanges. “This should allow these other advertising exchanges to be in a better position to compete with Google.”

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