CMA launches second investigation into Google’s ad tech practices

Posted on Friday 27 May 2022 | IAB UK

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating whether Google has restricted competition in the digital advertising technology market

Following the launch of a probe into Google and Meta’s ‘Jedi Blue’ agreement, the CMA has launched a second investigation into Google’s practices in ad tech. 

The investigation is focused on three key parts of the digital advertising supply chain - demand-side platforms (DSPs), ad exchanges and publisher ad servers. Google owns  the largest service provider in each. 

The CMA explains that it is assessing “whether Google’s practices in these parts of the ad tech stack may distort competition. These include whether Google limited the interoperability of its ad exchange with third-party publisher ad servers and/or contractually tied these services together, making it more difficult for rival ad servers to compete. The CMA is also concerned that Google may have used its publisher ad server and its DSPs to illegally favour its own ad exchange services, while taking steps to exclude the services offered by rivals”.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s Chief Executive, adds: “We’re worried that Google may be using its position in ad tech to favour its own services to the detriment of its rivals, of its customers and ultimately of consumers… Weakening competition in this area could reduce the ad revenues of publishers, who may be forced to compromise the quality of their content to cut costs or put their content behind paywalls. It may also be raising costs for advertisers which are passed on through higher prices for advertised goods and services.” 

Google commented:  “Advertising tools from Google and many competitors help websites and apps fund their content, and help businesses of all sizes effectively reach their customers. Google’s tools alone have supported an estimated £55 billion in economic activity for over 700,000 businesses in the UK and when publishers choose to use our advertising services, they keep the majority of revenue. We will continue to work with the CMA to answer their questions and share the details on how our systems work.” 

Find out more about the CMA’s investigation here

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