Google and antitrust issues go hand-in-hand, especially in the European Union where the company has been slapped with numerous heavy fines. In the United States, Google has also had its fair share of problems with regulators.
In the latest round of “governments hate how Google conducts business”, an antitrust watchdog in France has agreed to a settlement of $268 million with the company. You can read this as settlement, and official that is what it is. However, for all intents and purposes, this is a fine.
Google does not want to pay this money but would rather do so to avoid further action. Along with paying up the fine settlement, Google will also change its ad practices.
Yes, we think that may be wishful thinking considering how many times Google has been brought to task for its ad practices. However, the company says it will adjust how it handles ads, at least in France.
According to Reuters, Google's run-in with French authorities started when a news publishing company complained. The country's antitrust authority investigated and found Google Ad Manager was biased towards AdX. This is Google's own ad marketplace where publishers sell ad space in real time.
Quelle surprise, Google was showing favour to its own platform. AdX was taking winning bids from Google Ad Manager and providing more seamless integration with Ad Manager compared to rival platforms.
As part of the “settlement”, Google will commit to improving interoperability between AdX and platforms from other companies. According to Isabelle de Silva, the antitrust authority chief, Google was facing a much bigger fine before agreeing to a settlement.
“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.”
It seems Google knows it was on a poor footing as the company is unlikely to appeal the decision in courts.
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