Google accused of ‘strangling online advertising’ in EU complaint over ‘unfair monopoly’

GOOGLE is facing a major anti-trust complaint over an alleged “illegal tactic” to monopolize the online advertising industry.

The major publishers argue that Google holds too much power in this area – threatening the free press.

Google is accused of engaging in unfair practices to dominate the online advertising industry


Google is accused of engaging in unfair practices to dominate the online advertising industryCredit: Google

The complaint is intended to “break the bondage” the search engine giant has over online ads.

Participate Google is the European Publishers Council (EPC), which represents some of Europe’s largest media groups.

It comes just days after the UK revealed its plans to force Facebook and Google to pay for the press that they profit from.

This latest complaint has been filed with the European Commission and alleges that Google has unfairly dominated online advertising for more than a decade.

The competition is stifling, they say, leaving publishers starved for the revenue needed to fund journalism.

According to the team, problems started to arise when Google acquired the advertising agency DoubleClick in 2008 – allowing it to consolidate considerable power.

“The strategy worked, and Google gained end-to-end control over the ad technology value chain,” EPC said.

It alleges that Google holds a market share of between 90% and 100% in parts of the industry.

“Google’s ad technology suite is filled with conflicts of interest,” the EPC said.

“Because Google represents buyer and seller in the same transaction.

“While also operating the auction house in the middle, and selling its own inventory.”

As recently as June, Google was fined 220 million euros by the French competition watchdog for its dominance in the online advertising market.

Italy hit a much smaller fine of 11.2 million euros in November for similar reasons.

But these are small numbers compared to Google’s annual revenue, which has grown to a staggering $147 billion (£108 billion) in 2020.

Much of this ad sales is driven through its main products like the Google search engine, YouTube, and Gmail.

And just under a fifth of ad revenue comes from Google technology that media companies use to sell ads on their own platforms.

“Competition regulators around the world have found that Google has restricted competition in the ad technology sector,” said Christian Van Thillo, President of the EPC.

“However, Google was able to remove minor commits that did not yield any meaningful changes to its behaviour.

“This cannot continue.

“The stakes are too high, especially for the future viability of funding a pluralistic and free press.

“We urge the Commission to take concrete steps now to truly break the bond that Google has on all of us.”

Google said it plans to work with the Commission to resolve the complaint.

And the tech giant — worth about $1.82 billion on the stock market — says it helps publishers generate more revenue.

In a statement, Google said: “Online advertising forms the foundation for much of the content we enjoy and learn from online.

“For the first time, it has allowed millions of small businesses to afford advertising.

“And for news publishers large and small, it has created new opportunities and significant new revenue streams that didn’t exist in the journalism age.

“When publishers choose to use our advertising services, they keep most of the revenue, and we pay billions of dollars each year directly to publishing partners in our ad network. “

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