Google received a fine of €220 million ($267 million) on Monday and agreed to adjust its key online advertising products after France's competition regular said Google had abused its dominant market position.
Three media companies — News Corp, the French daily Le Figaro and the Belgian Groupe Rossel — had accused Google of having a virtual monopoly on placing ads on their websites and apps. Le Figaro later dropped its complaint.
What was Google accused of?
The president of France's competition regulator Isabelle de Silva said, "It is the first ruling in the world to scrutinize the complex algorithmic processes for the auctions that determine online 'display' advertising."
France's competition authority said Google effectively gave preferential treatment to its own ad inventory auction service AdX and its real-time platform for clients to select and buy ads, Doubleclick Ad Exchange.
The media companies alleged Google's services unfairly competed against rivals in the adtech space through various methods. Internet sites or mobile apps run by the media groups were less competitive if rival platforms were used.
For instance, Doubleclick varied its commission when making a sale based on rivals' pricing. Google also arranged for its own supply-side platform AdX to be gamed in such a way that it preferred advertising from Doubleclick to alternatives.
How has Google reacted to the settlement?
For its part, Google did not contest the findings and agreed to adjustments in its advertising products.
The legal director for Google France Maria Gomri said, "We are going to test and develop these changes in the coming months before deploying them more broadly, including some on a global scale."
Previously in December of 2019, the French regulator fined Google €150 million ($182 million) over what it alleged were "opaque" operating rules on its advertising platform. Last December,Google and Amazon were both hit with €135 million ($164 million) in fines by France's privacy watchdog for the use of advertising cookies without consent.
ar/aw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)