France imposes a fine of 220 million euros on Google for abuse in the internet advertising business and Google agrees to modify its practices in the advertising sector.
The French Competition Authority has imposed a fine of 268 million dollars on Google for promoting its own services in the internet advertising sector.
In this way, an antitrust investigation for abuse of power in internet advertising is resolved. Google “did not question the facts” and the fine was decided in the context of a negotiation procedure with the US giant, which according to the French competition regulator, has agreed to “modify” its advertising management services.
“The decision to fine Google is particularly significant, as it is the first in the world to tackle the complex algorithmic auction processes used for online display advertising,” said the director of the French Competition Authority, Isabelle de Silva.
The French competition regulator considers that the practices for which Google has been fined are “particularly serious”, since “they have penalized Google’s competition in the SSP market” —the supply side platforms or offer platforms, the “Marketplaces” where ad space buyers and publishers who want to sell ad space meet — and page and mobile app publishers.
Among them, underlines the Competition Authority, press groups have been particularly affected, “when their economic model is already strongly weakened by the drop in sales and paper subscriptions, as well as by the drop in associated advertising revenue” .
“The Authority recalls that a company in a dominant position has a special responsibility,” underlines the body, according to which Google has prioritized, to the detriment of its rivals, sending advertising business servers and its online ad auction system.
In addition to the fine, Google has promised to remedy the situation by improving the interoperability of its Google Ad Manager services for third parties.
The French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, “welcomed” the decision to heavily fine Google, a “fair” step, he considers, given the damage caused above all to a sector as affected as the press, which is behind the initial lawsuit.
“The large platforms have progressively acquired dominant positions and it is essential to apply our competition rules to the digital giants that carry out their activity in our territory,” he declared as soon as he was aware of the decision of the competition regulator.
In separate cases, French antitrust regulators are beginning to curb anti-competitive behavior in online advertising from tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook. While the Google case ended with a fine, Facebook tried to avoid it last week by pledging to appease regulators.
The Google case stems from a complaint filed in 2019 by News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media company, along with the French newspaper Le Figaro and the Belgian media group Rossel La Voix.
It is not the first time that Google has come under French antitrust scrutiny over online advertising. He already received a fine of 150 million euros in 2019.
The search engine is also at risk of sanction in the coming weeks for suspicions that it failed to comply with an order related to its news service.