In a tight spot, the troubles for the global technology major Google are far from over. The latest jolt for the company came on Friday when an antitrust probe was initiated against the company on a complaint lodged by the European Publishers Council over its digital advertising business.
The complaint has come at a time when similar other such complaints are also under investigation and this will potentially strengthen EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into the issue.
Alphabet Inc’s Google made $147 billion in revenue from online ads in 2020, more than any other company in the world, with ads including search, YouTube and Gmail accounting for the bulk of its overall sales and profits.
About 16% of its revenue came from the company’s display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell ads on their website and apps.
The European Commission earlier opened an investigation in June into whether Google favours its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of rivals, advertisers and online publishers.
The publishers’ trade body, whose members include Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, Bonnier News and Editorial Prensa Iberica, took its grievance to the European Commission, alleging Google has an adtech stranglehold over press publishers.
“It is high time for the European Commission to impose measures on Google that actually change, not just challenge, its behaviour,” EPC Chairman Christian Van Thillo said in a statement.
“Google has achieved end-to-end control of the ad tech value chain, boasting market shares as high as 90-100% in segments of the ad tech chain,” he said.
Vestager, who has fined Google more than 8 billion euros ($9.2 billion) in recent years for anti-competitive practices in three cases, last year launched the investigation into Google’s digital advertising business. Google said publishers benefit from its adtech services.
“When publishers choose to use our advertising services, they keep the majority of revenue and every year we pay out billions of dollars directly to the publishing partners in our ad network,” Google said.