Google’s Advertising Tech Targeted in European Publishers’ Complaint

Alphabet unit Google on Friday became the target of an antitrust complaint by the European Publishers Council over its digital advertising business, which could potentially strengthen EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into the issue.

Google made $147 billion (roughly Rs. 110,70 crore) in revenue from online advertisements in 2020, more than any other company in the world, with advertisements including search, YouTube and Gmail accounting for the bulk of its overall sales and profits.

About 16 percent of its revenue came from the company’s display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell advertisements on their website and apps.

The European Commission opened an investigation in June into whether Google favours its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of rivals, advertisers, and online publishers.

The publishers’ trade body, whose members include Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, Bonnier News, and Editorial Prensa Iberica, took its grievance to the European Commission, alleging Google has an adtech stranglehold over press publishers.

“It is high time for the European Commission to impose measures on Google that actually change, not just challenge, its behaviour,” EPC Chairman Christian Van Thillo said in a statement.

“Google has achieved end-to-end control of the ad tech value chain, boasting market shares as high as 90-100 percent in segments of the ad tech chain,” he said.

Vestager, who has fined Google more than EUR 8 billion (roughly Rs. 68,640 crore) in recent years for anti-competitive practices in three cases, last year launched the investigation into Google’s digital advertising business.

Google has said it would engage constructively with the Commission.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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