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EU launches probe into Google digital advertising

EU launches probe into Google digital advertising

The EU's competition watchdog has said it would probe Google's advertisement technology business. The bloc is concerned the US tech giant "has made it harder for rival online advertisement services to compete."

The European Commission on Tuesday opened a formal antitrust investigation into Google, alleging the US tech company could be violating EU competition rules in online advertising technology.

Brussels said it would probe whether Google stifles competition by restricting access to third parties to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use.

"Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetize their online services," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

"We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack," Vestager said. She added that Google had collected data to be used for targeted advertising while also selling advertising space and acting as an intermediary between digital advertisers and publishers.

"We will also be looking at Google's policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition," she said.

How did Google respond?

Google said it would engage constructively with the European Commission, in comments to the Reuters news agency.

"Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. They choose them because they're competitive and effective," Reuters quoted a spokesperson as saying.

As part of the investigation, the Commission will assess whether there is a need to use Display & Video 360 — a Google service — and Google Ads to place advertisement on platforms such as YouTube.

Google generated $147 billion (€123 billion) in revenue from online ads last year — more than any other company in the world. Ads on its properties such as YouTube and Gmail accounted for most of its sales and profits.