Google’s legal headaches continue to grow after it is reported that the European Commission is seeking information from advertisers regarding Google’s advertising technology practices.
Reuters reported that it has seen a European Commission document confirming the probe, and this is now the second European Union investigation into its advertising practices, focused on technology and data.
Google has reason to be concerned. Google has already been sanctioned by the EU in recent years to the tune of $9.7 billion in total, for abusing its market power to favour its shopping comparison service, its Android mobile operating system, and its advertising business.
In 2017 the European Commission had fined Google 2.4bn euros (£2.01bn) after the Commission ruled that Google had thwarted rivals of shopping comparison websites.
Then in July 2018 the European Commission had fined Google the record 4.3 billion euros (£3.83bn) for commercial practices related to its Android mobile operating system.
And then in March 2019 European antitrust regulators once again fined Google 1.49bn euros (£1.3bn) concerning the firm’s AdSense advertising service.
And that does not include a number of antitrust probes Google is facing in the United States.
Google and Facebook together capture over half of the internet ad sales market globally.
Google said it was cooperating with the Commission Reuters reported, after a 13-page questionnaire was sent to advertisers this month asking about the impact of using the default setting ‘Include Google Display Network’ introduced in 2018 for search campaigns on Google Ads.
“We compete with many others in the industry and give people granular controls over how their information is used to personalize ads and limit the sharing of personal data to safeguard people’s privacy,” a Google spokeswoman reportedly said.
The Commission said the questionnaires are part of its investigation into Google’s data usage.
“This investigation covers all services of Google, including digital advertising and the ad tech chain,” the EU competition enforcer reportedly said on Wednesday.
The EU apparently also wants to know if advertisers receive rebates when they use Google intermediaries which allow advertisers or media agencies to buy advertising inventory from many sources.
Reuters said the questionnaire also asks whether the ability to access Google’s YouTube is tied to the selection of an intermediary.
It asked if Google’s integration in 2018 of its online ad delivery unit DoubleClick impacted advertisers as well as any imminent impact from its plan to phase out third-party cookies on the Chrome browser by the end of 2022.
Advertisers have until Friday to reply to the questionnaire.
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