The US tech giant said it would bring changes to its global advertising business to ensure it did not abuse its dominance, bowing to antitrust pressure for the first time in a landmark settlement with French authorities.
The deal with the French competition watchdog could help rebalance the power over advertising in favour of publishers, which held sway over the business in the pre-internet era but lost control with the rapid rise of Google and Facebook.
The settlement was announced on Monday and included a fine of 220 million euros ($268 million). This was the first time Google had agreed to make changes to its ads business, which brings in the bulk of its revenue.
The watchdog found that Google’s ad management platform for large publishers Google Ad Manager favored the company’s own online ad marketplace -Google AdX where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time.
Under the terms of the settlement, Google committed for three years to level the playing field better for AdX with an independent trustee monitoring the situation. Some of those changes would be implemented by the first quarter of 2022. It is added that Google would not appeal the decision.
The ad practices of tech giants, whose success relies on the trove of data they have amassed over the years, have infuriated many publishers globally. The French antitrust authority said its decision opened the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google, as per Reuters report.
Most of Google’s sales come from search and YouTube ads. But last year around $23 billion was tied to helping publishers sell ads, drawing antitrust scrutiny to the connections between Google’s businesses, plus calls from some critics to break up the company.