Yet another Google antitrust suit
After a two-year investigation into alleged behaviors of Google that favor its own advertising services over those of competitors, the European Commission has published a statement of objections to the search giant, which begins:
"The European Commission has informed Google of its preliminary view that the company breached EU antitrust rules by distorting competition in the advertising technology industry (‘adtech'). The Commission takes issue with Google favouring its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers."
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager (pictured, above) said Google may have to sell part of its adtech business because "a behavioural remedy is unlikely to be effective".
Ms. Vestager went on to speculate that Google could end its current "conflict of interest" by selling off DoubleClick for Publishers and Ad Exchange.
In a published statement, Google VP/Global Ads Dan Taylor said in part:
"Today’s Statement of Objections from the European Commission sets out claims that are not new and relate to a narrow part of our advertising business. It fails to recognize how advanced advertising technology helps merchants reach customers and grow their businesses — while lowering costs and expanding choices for consumers.
"We look forward to showing how we have enabled higher-quality, more effective digital ads that have helped fund broader access to content and information online for everyone.
"...According to industry studies, the average large publisher will use six different platforms to sell ads on its website this year. In such a crowded space, publishers, and advertisers choose to use Google because our products are effective and reliable. Our ad tech fees are transparent and consistent with industry rates. And our industry-leading tools help publishers and advertisers verify that they don’t face hidden fees in buying and selling ad placements.
"...We look forward to showing how our ad tech tools help make the internet open, and accessible — and how breaking them would diminish the availability of free, ad-supported content that benefits everyone."
Meanwhile, back in the USA, Google faces a similar antitrust lawsuit brought by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington and West Virginia. The plaintiffs claim that Google violates antitrust regulations, and seek as remedy the breaking up of Google's Ad Manager suite.
An earlier suit in the US that claimed Google violated antitrust regulations to sustain its dominant position in online search is set to go to trial in September 2023.
How will all these antitrust suits play out? Will Google undergo big changes? Would the changes being sought really create a more competitive advertising market, or just a more expensive one?