EU Charges Google for Anti-competitive Practices in ADTech Business

The European Union charged Google for Anti-competitive practices in advertising technology (ADTech) and may seek the breakup of parts of its business to resolve the bloc’s concerns.

The executive arm of the EU, the European Commission reached a primary conclusion that Google is dominant in the European Union market for publisher ad servers and also for programmatic ad-buying tools for the open web. The commission also said Google has abused its dominant place since at least 2014.

Alphabet will read the concerns rose by the commission and have a chance to defend its position in writing, and can request an oral hearing to present their comments.

The European Commission suggested that Google might have to break up its business to address the concerns raised and hence comply with competition rules in the bloc.

EU competition Chief Margrethe Vestager said, “The Commission’s preliminary view is therefore that only the mandatory divestment by Google of part of its services would address its competition concerns.”

This will be the first instance that the European Commission would ask to split part of a business.

Vestager said, “Google collects users’ data, it sells advertising space, and it acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the so-called ADTech supply chain. Our preliminary concern is that Google may have used its market position to favor its own intermediation services. Not only did this possibly harm Google’s competitors but also publishers’ interests, while also increasing advertisers’ costs. If confirmed, Google’s practices would be illegal under our competition rules.”

Vestager further added, “There is an inherent conflict of interest. Google is in every part of this supply chain. We have the obligation to find the remedy that would be the less intrusive. We don’t see that this inherent and inbuilt conflict of interest can be solved in another way by not having ownership of the entire value chain.”