Omar Oakes
Mar 21, 2019

Google hit with third Europe antitrust fine over online ads

Internet behemoth 'blocked' rivals Microsoft and Yahoo from selling ads in Google search results pages.

Google hit with third Europe antitrust fine over online ads

Google has been hit with a third antitrust fine from European lawmakers, this time for €1.49 billion (US$1.7 billion), over the way ads appear on website search engines.

The European Commission said the internet giant engaged in "abusive practices" in its AdSense for Search platform by blocking rivals Microsoft and Yahoo from selling ads in Google search results pages.

Because Google is the dominant player in online search advertising intermediation in the European market, it was able to negotiate exclusivity clauses in its deals with publishers.

The fine, which is 1.28% of Google’s turnover in 2018, has been calculated based on the revenue Google generated from its AdSense business in proportion to its overall revenue as a company, taking into account the 10-year period of violation that was covered by the investigation.

The EC investigation found that:

  • Publishers were stopped from placing search ads from competitors on their results pages, starting from 2016
  • Google then began replacing exclusivity clauses in deals with "premium placement" clauses in 2009, which required publishers to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google ads
  • From 2009, Google also required publishers to seek written approval from the company before making changes to the way rivals ads were displayed

"The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on their merits and to innovate—and consumers the benefits of competition."

This is the third time that the EC has fined Google over antitrust, following the US$5 billion fine for anti-competitive behaviors associated with its Android mobile operating system last summer and another €2.42 billion (US$2.77 billion) fine for ecommerce violations in 2017. 

Responding to the decision, Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice-president of global affairs, said: "We’ve always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interest. We’ve already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the commission’s concerns. Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe."

Verizon Media (formerly AOL and Yahoo) declined to comment, while Microsoft did not immediately respond for comment.

Source:
Campaign UK

Related Articles

Just Published

3 hours ago

Nike Japan ad receives backlash—but is incidentally ...

A moving new film by W+K and Nike sparks debate about racism in Japan.

4 hours ago

Amstel's global brand director on China launch

Amstel, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary, is preparing a marketing push to announce its entrance in China for the first time.

4 hours ago

New Business League: October 2020 report

Dentsu, Leo Burnett, PHD, OMD, VMLY&R, BBDO, MediaCom and Starcom are among the agencies shifting positions in R3's latest tally of APAC new business. Plus, see the top 10 APAC wins.

4 hours ago

Five takeaways from Zalora's Trender report on SE ...

TOP OF THE CHARTS: Even as talk of a vaccine grows louder, consumers in the region may continue to stick with ecommerce post-pandemic too.