Google's CEO Sundar Pichai.
Google's CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • The EU has launched a fresh antitrust investigation into Google's advertising practices.
  • European officials have previously fined the tech giant close to $10 billion (R140 billion) for antitrust breaches.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The European Union has launched another investigation into Google over its online advertising practices.

The fresh probe will examine the extent to which Google has favoured its display ad technology over competitors, and potentially broken antitrust rules.

The tech giant has already been fined for anti-competitive behaviour - over search, shopping, and Android - by the EU three times in as many years: first for $2.7 billion in 2017, again for $5 billion in 2018, and once more for $1.7 billion in 2019.

The firm has repeatedly rejected the EU's findings, and met officials in court to appeal the first fine earlier this year.

In a statement on Tuesday, the EU's competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, said she was concerned that Google had "made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete" because of its dominance of the market supply chain.

As part of its investigation, the European Commission plans to look at whether advertisers are unfairly forced into using Google's services such as AdX and DV360.

AdX is an ads-exchange platform that allows users to bid for online advertising space in real time. DV360, or Display and Video 360, is used to manage ads: displaying their success, monitoring budgets, and offering recommendations for new campaigns.

Officials also expect to examine Google's plans to do away with third-party advertising cookies in Google Chromea plan that sent the ads industry into a tailspin when it was first announced in January 2020.

"Fair competition is important," Vestager said. "Both for advertisers to reach consumers on publishers' sites and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers, to generate revenues and funding for content."

"We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers."

The news comes shortly after UK officials announced they were scrutinising both Apple and Google over whether their combined dominance of the mobile ecosystem could be harming users and businesses.

The European competition chief also said the commission would look at Google's policies on user tracking to "make sure they are in line with fair competition."

About 80% of Google's revenue comes through advertising on its network of products, such as its search engine and YouTube, accounting for about $147 billion (R2,094,912,355,708) last year.

"Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day," a Google representative told Insider. "They choose them because they're competitive and effective.

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