Technology giant Google has been fined $268 million by France’s competition regulator on Monday for abusing its market power in the online advertising industry.
Google was found to have given preferential treatment to its own ad inventory auction service AdX and to Doubleclick Ad Exchange. It’s a real-time platform for allowing clients to choose and buy advertising, by the competition authority.
The authority’s president 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.”
Media companies looking to sell ad space on their websites or mobile applications through rival platforms frequently. It discovered that Google’s services were unfairly competing against rivals through a number of means.
Regulators discovered that Doubleclick would adjust the commission it earned while making a sale dependent on the pricing offered by other so-called ad servers.
The regulator stated, “The practices are particularly serious because they are penalizing Google’s competitors in the SSP market as well as the editors of websites and mobile apps.”
Media companies have seen a drop in internet ad revenue, “even as their business model has been strongly undermined by the decline in paper subscriptions and the associated drop in advertising revenue.”
The findings were not challenged by Google, and the regulator stated that the business has agreed to make operational adjustments, including enhanced interoperability with third-party ad placement providers.
Maria Gomri, legal director at Google France stated, “We are going to test and develop these changes in the coming months before deploying them more broadly, including some on a global scale.”
The penalties are a small number compared to Google’s $55.3 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year, primarily from online ad sales.
Last week, Facebook was the subject of a rival competition investigation from the European Union and the United Kingdom, both looking into whether the social media giant is misusing data from advertisers to gain an unfair advantage in the online classifieds market.