A competition monitor is looking into Google's ad dominance.

The UK's competition authority has announced an investigation into Google's ad market dominance.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into whether Google utilized its power to favor its own services over those of competitors.

It's the agency's second probe into Google's ad-tech practices.

"We will continue to cooperate with the CMA to answer their queries and give the information on how our processes work," a Google representative said.

They explained: "Google and many competitors' advertising solutions enable websites and applications support their content, as well as help businesses of all kinds contact their customers successfully.

"Google's tools have supported an estimated £55 billion in economic activity for over 700,000 firms in the UK, and publishers keep the majority of money when they utilize our advertising services."

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The probe will focus on the "ad-tech stack," or technologies that allow for the purchase and sale of online advertising spots.

Google owns the largest service provider in each of the three categories, according to the report:

  • Advertisers acquire internet ad space using demand-side platforms.
  • Companies buy ads on ad exchanges.
  • Ad servers are companies that select the advertisements that appear on a website.

In 2019, UK advertisers spent almost £1.8 billion on this form of online advertising, according to the CMA.

The difficulty for the CMA, according to Ioannis Kokkoris, professor of competition law and economics at Queen Mary University of London, was Google packaging up services from various parts.

"A corporation that is dominating in one market cannot tie together different products that it provides," he stated, citing basic competition legislation.

"It cannot enforce any kind of exclusivity.

"According to the CMA, Google is imposing on advertisers: "If you want to utilize our ad exchange, you must also use our ad server."

"According to the report, Google is preventing other companies from accessing these areas.

"If the CMA can show that the issue is what it claims, the conduct is anticompetitive.

"It all comes down to whether or not the CMA has the evidence to prove it."

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Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, stated: "We're concerned that Google is abusing its ad tech position to favor its own services at the expense of competitors, users, and, ultimately, consumers.

"It's critical that we continue to monitor the behavior of the tech companies that have such a huge impact on our lives in order to achieve the greatest possible outcomes for people and businesses throughout the UK."

If it is discovered that Google has broken competition law, the CMA may decide to open a separate inquiry under the Competition Act 1998.

If the inquiry uncovers a legal violation, Google might face a fine of up to ten percent of its global revenue.

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