Canada poutine more pressure on Google by expanding ad biz antitrust probe

Court order means ad giant will have to cough evidence of possible market manipulation

It has not been a great week for Google's Ad business. After being served a €2.1 billion lawsuit in Europe, Canadian regulators have expanded an investigation into whether it abused its market position to quash rival platforms.

In a statement released Thursday, the Canadian Competition Bureau revealed it had been granted a court order compelling Google to produce records related to its advertising business.

The order marks the latest chapter in the now four-year-long investigation by the Canadians into Google's advertising biz. The regulator is expanding the scope of the probe to determine to what extent Google used its market position to disadvantage or harm competitors.

They also want to know whether the search giant may have engaged in predatory pricing – a practice in which corporations take advantage of their scale to lower prices to the point where it's no longer profitable for rivals to compete.

According to the Bureau, more information is required to determine whether Google intentionally engaged in behavior that resulted in higher prices for consumers, or whether it harmed or otherwise reduced competition in the display advertising space.

"The investigation is ongoing and there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time," the Bureau declared in a statement.

Google has consistently denied allegations that its advertising business harms competition, arguing instead that its platforms have helped millions of websites find success. We've asked Google for comment regarding the Canadian investigation and we'll let you know if we hear back.

The court order arrived as Google came under fire from more than 30 European media organizations, which have filed a €2.1 billion lawsuit over the search giant's anti-competitive advertising tech.

As we reported Thursday, the publishers alleged that Google's technologies resulted in lost revenues and higher prices for customers – both key indicators of anti-competitive behavior.

Meanwhile, in the US, a lawsuit against Google brought by the US Justice Department and Attorneys General from eight states last year is due to kick off in September. The suit alleges that Google violated the Sherman Act by monopolizing multiple digital advertising technologies, and therefore should be broken up.

But Google isn't just taking heat – it's also dishing it out. Earlier this week, Google Cloud VP Amit Zavery flamed rival cloud provider Microsoft, calling on regulators to act against the software giant's anti-competitive licensing practices. ®

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