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EU antitrust authorities are finally taking a broad and deep look into Google’s adtech stack and role in the online ad market — confirming today that they’ve opened a formal investigation.
Google has already been subject to three major EU antitrust enforcements over the past five years — against Google Shopping (2017), Android (2018) and AdSense (2019). But the European Commission has, until now, avoided officially wading into the broader issue of its role in the adtech supply chain. (The AdSense investigation focused on Google’s search ad brokering business, though Google claims the latest probe represents that next stage of that 2019 enquiry, rather than stemming from a new complaint).
The Commission said that the new Google antitrust investigation will assess whether it has violated EU competition rules by “favouring its own online display advertising technology services in the so called ‘ad tech’ supply chain, to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers”.
Display advertising spending in the EU in 2019 was estimated to be approximately €20BN, per the Commission.
“The formal investigation will notably examine whether Google is distorting competition by restricting access by third parties to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use,” it added in a press release.