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Google ad biz shenanigans smacked down by French competition regulators

Chocolate Factory competition-squashing tactics receive a firm 'Non' from Paris

Google is to change the way it operates its advertising business, after the internet giant was slapped with a €220m (£189m) fine by French competition regulators for abusing its dominant position.

Publishing the decision, the Autorité de la concurrence ruled that Google granted preferential treatment to its own proprietary technologies offered under its Google Ad Manager brand.

This was “to the detriment of its competitors and publishers,” the French regulator said.

Isabelle de Silva, the Autorité de la concurrence president, said the ruling was significant because it was “the first decision in the world to look into complex algorithmic auctions processes through which online display advertising works”.

She went on:

"The particularly rapid investigation revealed processes by which Google, building on its considerable dominance in ad servers for websites and applications, outperformed its competitors on both ad servers and SSP platforms.

“These very serious practices penalised competition in the emerging online advertising market, and allowed Google not only to maintain but also to increase its dominant position.

“This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to re-establish a level playing field for all players, and the ability for publishers to make the most of their advertising space."

The investigation was originally triggered by a complaint lodged by News Corp Inc, Le Figaro group and the Rossel La Voix group.

Responding to the ruling, Google said it plans to make some “changes to our ad technology.”

Writing in a blog published yesterday, Maria Gomri, legal director at Google France, noted the company was “committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products”.

“That’s why, as part of an overall resolution of the FCA’s investigation, we have agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies,” she wrote.

“We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally." ®

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