Google agrees to change advertising practices after France imposed fines

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Watchdog said the decision opens up an opportunity for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google.

Paris, France:

Alphabet’s Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely used online advertising services as part of an unprecedented deal with the French antitrust authority, published Monday.

Authorities also fined the Mountain View, California-based company 220 million euros ($ 267.48 million) after an investigation showed it had abused its market power in an intricate online advertising business where some of its tools became practically indispensable for large publishers.

The French watchdog’s decision is an attempt to rebalance the power struggle over online advertising in favor of publishers who dominated business in the pre-Internet era but lost ground significantly with the rise of Google and Facebook.

The supervisor said the decision opens up an opportunity for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google. Many publishers around the world are dissatisfied with the advertising practices employed by tech giants.

“The decision to impose sanctions on Google is of particular importance because it is the world’s first decision to focus on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online advertising business depends,” said French antitrust law chief Isabelle de Silva.

De Silva said that the amount of the fine was reduced in connection with the settlement of the dispute, but did not elaborate.

A Google spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The supervisory body said that Google will not try to appeal the decision of the authorities in court.

An investigation by the French antitrust authority focused on the tools Google offers online publishers to sell and manage online advertising. The settlement with Google shows that the company is ready to succumb to antitrust pressure and make operational changes to some of its most popular advertising business tools, the success of which depends on the massive amount of data accumulated over the years. The watchdog found that Google Ad Manager, the firm’s ad management platform for large publishers, favored AdX, its own online advertising marketplace where publishers sell space to advertisers in real time. This was done, in part, by providing strategic AdX data such as winning bid prices. The supervisor also said that Google AdX offers Google Ad Manager superior interoperability over competing so-called Seller Platforms (SSPs), a key technology that allows publishers to manage ad spaces available for purchase, fill them with ads, and generate revenue.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google is committed to improving the interaction of Google Ad Manager services with a third-party ad server and platform for selling ad space, the observer said.

The supervisory body stated that it has accepted these commitments and that they are binding in its decision. The case follows a complaint from News Corp., French publishing group Le Figaro and Belgian press group Rossel.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated channel.)

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