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The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation to see if Google would prefer its own advertising services to the detriment of its competitors.
The research focuses on the diverse display advertising market and whether the search giant restricted access to user data for competitors while it was using it for its own profit. Google is present throughout the “Adtech” supply chain – collecting data, selling advertising space and acting as an online advertising broker.
“We are concerned that Google has made it difficult for competing online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement.
This is Vestager’s fourth competitive investigation against Google, previously fined $ 2.42 billion.
The Commission will examine a wide range of Google practices in relation to its display advertising, including obligations to use certain Google products such as Display & Video 360, Google Ad Manager, but also Google’s privacy sandbox and restrictions US technology giants for the ability of third parties to access data.
“Google is present at almost every level of the online display advertising supply chain,” said Vestager. “We’ll also look at Google’s user tracking guidelines to make sure they’re in line with fair competition.”
Google said it would “continue to work constructively” with the commission. “Thousands of European companies use our advertising products to reach new customers every day and to fund their websites. They choose them because they are competitive and effective, ”said a company spokesman.
Brussels started its preliminary investigation in late 2019 with very broad questions about the data collection practices of Google and Facebook. POLITICO reported in January that the commission had split the case into two separate cases, one focusing on adtech and one on data.
The Commission said today that its investigation “will take into account the need to protect users’ privacy in accordance with relevant EU legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation”.
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