Google Proposes Settlement In EU Digital Advertising Probe

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Google tries to stave off lengthy investigation of its digital advertising business by reportedly seeking settlement with EU

Alphabet’s Google division is seeking to avoid another painful antitrust investigation by European officials, this time into its digital advertising business.

The search engine giant is seeking to settle the EU antitrust investigation into its digital advertising business, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Google is right to try and avoid a long investigation, after previous EU probes have ended costing it more than 8 billion euros ($9.4 billion).

Image credit: European Commission
Image credit: European Commission

Advertising probe

In June this year the European Commission confirmed the opening of a formal antitrust investigation.

It said at the time that “this probe will assess whether Google has violated EU competition rules by favouring its own online display advertising technology services in the so called ‘ad tech’ supply chain, to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers.”

The Commission added that “the formal investigation will notably examine whether Google is distorting competition by restricting access by third parties to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use.”

It comes after it was revealed in January that European Commission was seeking information from advertisers regarding Google’s advertising practices.

But now Reuters has reported that Google has made a proposal to the Commission in an effort to settle the case. It cited a person who declined to provide details because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Commission,which acts as the competition enforcer for the 27-country bloc, reportedly declined to comment, as did Google.

Previous fines

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 fined Google a 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.

Google is reportedly facing off against the EC in a 5-day court hearing next week over the record 4.3 billion euro fine related to its Android mobile operating system.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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