EU antitrust authorities have opened yet another formal investigation on Google—its fourth one over the last five years, to be exact. This time, the area in question is Google's ad tech stack, the section of the company that deals with filling virtual website spaces with ad placements online.
Google is being accused of favoring its own ad services over that of its competition, forcing companies to use Google's native Ad Manger for placing YouTube ads, for example, and pushing its own ad tech onto advertisers in a way that is unconducive towards a level playing field in a free market.
Apart from YouTube ad placement, the European Commission is also investigating "the restrictions placed by Google on the ability of third parties, such as advertisers, publishers or competing online display advertising intermediaries, to access data about user identity or user behaviour which is available to Google’s own advertising intermediation services, including the Doubleclick ID.
Google is also coming under fire for its plans to do away with third-party cookie placements on Chrome, and to replace them with its own “Privacy Sandbox” toolset. Moreover, Google plans to eliminate the availability of advertising IDs to third-party advertisers on the Android platform once a user has opted out of personalised advertising. These are only some of the concerns the European Commission is looking into.
Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack.
In the past, Google has been fined around $9.5 billion by the European Commission over previous violations of antitrust policies, according to Reuters. However, that's nearly a drop in the bucket considering that in the year 2019 alone, money spent on online advertising within the EU reached nearly 24 billion USD, as stated by the European Commission.
Google's reply has been than it would seek to resolve the case with the European Commission in a constructive manner, stating that European businesses choose Google's services simply because of their effectiveness and interoperability "with 700 rival ad platforms, and 80 rival publishing platforms."