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European Commission recommends Google to divest part of its ad services to address antitrust issues

Google Ads EC ruling

Today, the European Commission sent its Statement of Objections to Google over abusive practices in online advertising market. The Commission found that Google is favouring its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers.

EC highlighted the following antitrust issues:

  • Favouring its own ad exchange AdX in the ad selection auction run by its dominant publisher ad server DFP by, for example, informing AdX in advance of the value of the best bid from competitors which it had to beat to win the auction.
  • Favouring its ad exchange AdX in the way its ad buying tools Google Ads and DV360 place bids on ad exchanges. For example, Google Ads was avoiding competing ad exchanges and mainly placing bids on AdX, thus making it the most attractive ad exchange.

Google is active on both sides of the ad market with its publisher ad server and with its ad buying tools, also it operates the largest ad exchange, this leads to a situation of inherent conflicts of interest for Google. The European Commission’s preliminary view is that Google should divest part of its ad services to address its competition concerns.

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