The European Commission says it has opened an antitrust investigation to see whether Google has breached EU competition rules by favoring its own ad tech online display advertising technologies over rivals.
“The formal investigation will notably examine whether Google is distorting competition by restricting access by third parties to user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use,” the European Commission said on Tuesday.
It added that the investigation will focus on display advertising where Google offers a number of services both to advertisers and publishers.
“We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack. A level playing field is of the essence for everyone in the supply chain. Fair competition is important – both for advertisers to reach consumers on publishers’ sites and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers, to generate revenues and funding for content. We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition,” Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said as quoted in the European Commission’s Tuesday release.
The EU investigation will look into Google’s plans to block some kinds of user-tracking technologies in the Chrome browser and on Android smart mobile devices. It will also examine Google’s advertising practices on YouTube and other policies concerning Google Ads.