$268 million of Google hits over unfair ads

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Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

techno.rentetan.com – On Monday after France’s competition authority found that a large EUR 220 million (or roughly EUR 268 million) company has abused the outsized role of its digital publicity authority, Google was fined for its outdated role.

These fines came after the massive investigation of multiple media companies of the EU and elsewhere from the French Competition Authority (Autorité de la concurrence) in 2019 against the tech giant. It turns out that their allegations had a certain weight two years later. Google agreed to improve its advertising technology and was legally obliged to pay a multi-million dollar settlement, in addition to claiming favor of its own products from France, not to mention from other authorities.

Autorité President Isabelle de Silva said in a statement published on Monday that France was the first decision in the world “to investigate complicated algorithmic processes by which advertising was displayed online.”

“[Google’s] practices have penalized competition on the emerging online advertising market and not only have allowed Google to preserve its dominant position, but also to increase it,” de Silva added. “Which sanctions and commitments will enable the players and publishers to make the most of their advertising space to reestabilize a level playing field.”

One of the main allegations the Authority investigated was that the Google advertising server — used by most of the major websites to auction its ads — gave Google an advantage over the other auction operators online auction house.

Most Internet editors, such as the French daily Le Figaro, one of the names behind the original complaint in 2019, will rely on a single server at any time so that they can bang their bucks most. The main job of this server is to try to plug this advertising space into several auctions so that as many advertisers as possible can place offers on these places.

Google has used “different methods” to ensure that its own ad auctions would normally win on the company’s advertising servers, according to its investigation by the Autorité. Because of the flow of money into the digital ad ecosystem, the auctioning process not only ensured that more money would flow through Google, but also blocked funding from competing auction programs that could have paid more of these publishers. That means more money for Google, and less money for Google advertising sites.

The charges were not refuted by Google. “Although we believe we offer valued services and compete in terms of merit,” Google France’s legal director Maria Gomri stated in a blog post on Monday, “we are committed to working proactively with regulators around the globe, in order to improve on our products.

“That’s why we agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to use data and use our tools with additional ad technologies as part of an overall resolution of the FCA investigation,” she added, noting that over the coming months, the company will “test and develop” these changes before making them more broadly available.

One of Google’s most promising updates is not to use data from other competing auction companies to optimize its own offerings “in a way that other SSPs cannot reproduce.” The company promises that now, with a ‘minimum three months’ notice,’ its publisher partners can make any major changes to Google’s planning — unless such changes ‘relate to safety or protection of privacy.’

Other product changes that Google plans to make are those between its own advertising and third-party servers that “improve interoperability.” The company also promised to “create a solution which will ensure that everyone a publisher works with” receives the same amount of data in order to make the best possible impact on them—and, in turn, publishers can get a reasonable amount to sell their ad space.

According to Reuters, in the first quarter of next year Google will present those updates. Google blog notes that “some” of these changes will be made globally—Gizmodo has tried to clarify what they are.

Like nearly every corporate blog in the company, the blog has a lot of PR talk and details. For example, Google does not explain why certain boosts of transparency cannot be implemented in several markets. He did not explain how google shares data with all player buyers if Google admits that it is “technically impossible” to share these data most of the time simply because of the way most of the ad-tech pipes are run by publishers. And there are no comments on the blog about the interplay between these changes and Google’s plans to kill third-party cookies, which also face their own EU antitrust samples.

This isn’t just the first time Google has been an anti-trust adjacent headaches company-which raked in 183 trillion dollars last year. In December, a coalition of legislators led by Ken Paxton of Texas sued the company for allegation that it monopolized the digital advertising market. It is also the case that the company is currently facing other antitrust investigations, whether by DOJ or dozens of other countries. We have to wait until 2022, to see whether these changes actually boost competition in digital advertising, or whether Google will continue to be Google.