It was announced on Monday that Alphabet subsidiary "Google GOOGL.O" has now agreed to change some of its online advertising business. This, in an unprecedented agreement with the French Competition Authority.
The French regulator has imposed a fine of 220 million euros on the Californian company from Mountain View. For this one, Google would have abused its dominant position on the market of the advertising servers. The focus is on servers such as website and mobile application publishers.
The investigation of the Competition Authority was conducted after the filing of a complaint by News Corp. NWSA.O, Le Figaro (withdrawn from the recommendation in November 2020) and the Belgian press group Rossel. The investigations focused on the tools Google provides to online publishers to sell and manage advertising.
The Authority found irregularities in the operation of the DFP ad server, as well as in Google's "SSP AdX" sales platform. The latter would have given preferential treatment to its proprietary technology provided under the brand Google Ad Manager. Unfortunately, this behaviour is detrimental to the interests of its competitors and publishers.
In its statement, the authority described Google's actions as "serious". It also stressed that the digital giant did not dispute the facts of its alleged accusations. The American company also agreed to modify some of its online advertising services.
It has reportedly set out a series of commitments to make it easier for publishers to use the data. The group also wants to combine its tools with other advertising technologies from now on. As for the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, he welcomed the decision of the Competition Authority, which he said would allow French competition rules to be applied to digital giants operating in France.
In addition, Google's approach to promoting its own advertising technology was a barrier for media companies. A situation that is undoubtedly disconcerting, given that their business model is heavily based on advertising revenues.
The French Competition Authority's position is to restore a new balance to the online advertising market. This is to the benefit of publishers who were dominant in this field before the arrival of Google and Facebook.
The French regulator explained that its decision allows publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek compensation from Google. Meanwhile, many people around the world have expressed their dissatisfaction with the advertising practices adopted by the digital giants.
For the chairwoman of the Competition Authority, Isabel de Silva, the decision to sanction Google is of particular importance, as it is the first decision of its kind in the world. She also added that as part of the agreement, the fines imposed on Google were reduced, but she did not provide further details.