France fines Google €220m for abusing its advertising position


France is fining Google €220m for abusing its advertising powers by promoting its own ad services over its rivals. A competition watchdog group in France says that Google’s Ad Manager has been favoring its own AdX over the competition.

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For its part, Google has said it would make changes to the advertising business by making it easier for publishers to use its data and tools. This is not Google’s first dance with a European Union country like France; it has been fined many times before for similar issues.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said Isabelle de Silva, chief of France’s Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority).

The watchdog said Google Ad Manager provided AdX with strategic data such as the winning bidding prices, while AdX also enjoyed privileged access to requests made by advertisers via Google’s ad services.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “The practices put in place by Google to favour its own advertising technologies have affected press groups, whose business model is heavily dependent on ad revenues. These are serious practices and they have been rightly sanctioned.”

The French authority launched its investigation in 2019 following a joint complaint from News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro and Belgian press group Rossel.
It said its decision opens the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google.

“While we believe we offer valuable services and compete on the merits, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products,” said Maria Gomri, legal director, Google France.


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