France’s competition watchdog fines Google $268 million for “abuse of power”

France’s competition watchdog fined Google 220 million euros ($268 million) on Monday for abusing its dominant position in online advertising.

France’s antitrust agency said on Monday the US tech giant used its dominance over ad sales and purchasing on its platforms to distort the market to its own advantage, hurting publishers such as News Corp. “Google took advantage of its vertical integration to skew the process,” Isabelle de Silva, who heads France’s Autorité de la concurrence, said at a Paris press conference on Monday. She described Google’s behavior as “particularly serious.”

The French authority criticised Google for favouring its DoubleClick for Publishers ad server, where publishers sell ad space, and its AdX or DoubleClick Ad Exchange, where publishers sell page impressions to advertisers. De Silva said that Google intends to apply some of these commitments at a worldwide level. Google said in a blog post it’s “committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products.”

The company said it will be testing and developing behavioral changes agreed as part of the settlement over the coming months. The case sprang from a study the French Competition Authority published in 2018 after conducting a sector inquiry into online advertising, which put the spotlight on the power of Google and Facebook. News Corp., the group behind French newspaper Le Figaro and media firm Groupe Rossel la Voix SA followed up with a complaint to regulators the following year.


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