France fines Google €220 million for promoting its own services and abusing its ‘dominant position’ in online advertising
Five years ago, the European Commission launched multiple investigations into Amazon, Google, and Microsoft business practices. As we reported in December 2020, Google was fined $120 million for placing tracking cookies on users’ computers in France without their permission.
Today, The French Competition Authority fined Google 220 million euros ($267 million) for abusing its market power in the online advertising industry. In an announcement on Monday, France’s competition watchdog said it sanctioned Google for promoting its own services in the online advertising sector.
In addition, the regular also said that Google has agreed to end some of its self-preferencing practices in the automated online advertising business.
“Google, which has not disputed the facts, wished to enter into a transaction with the Authority, which granted its request. Google has also proposed commitments, accepted by the Authority, which will change the way its advertising service DFP and its sales platform AdX operate,” the watchdog said.
After many years of investigations, the watchdog found that Google gave preferential treatment to its DFP advertising server, which allows publishers of sites and applications to sell their advertising space, and its SSP AdX listing platform, which organizes auction processes and allows publishers to sell their “impressions” or advertising inventory to advertisers. Google’s rivals and publishers suffered as a result, the regulator said.
In a statement, Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority, said that the decision is the first in the world “to look at the complex algorithmic auction processes by which online advertising ‘display’ operates.”
She added that the investigation revealed processes by which Google favored itself over its competitors on both advertising servers and supply-side platforms, which are pieces of software used by publishers to manage, sell and optimize ad space on their websites and mobile apps.
“These very serious practices have penalized competition in the emerging online advertising market, and have enabled Google not only to preserve but also to increase its dominant position,” said de Silva.
“This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to re-establish a level playing field for all actors, and the ability of publishers to make the most of their advertising spaces.”