Google to pay $268M, make changes to ad tech after French antitrust probe – CNET

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Online ads are huge business for Google. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google is making changes to its online advertising business following an investigation by France’s competition regulator. The search giant also agreed to pay a 220 million euro ($268 million) fine to settle the probe, the French Competition Authority said in a press release on Monday. 

The French regulator said Google “abused its dominant position” in the online ad market and “granted preferential treatment to its proprietary technologies offered under the Google Ad Manager brand.” 

This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to re-establish a level playing field for all players, and the ability for publishers to make the most of their advertising space,” said Isabelle de Silva, president of the FCA, in the release. She added this action has special meaning because “it is the first decision in the world to look into complex algorithmic auctions processes through which online display advertising works.” 

In a blog post, Google said it’s committed to working with regulators and has agreed to “a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies.” Google said it will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out, some globally.

Online advertising is huge business for Google. For the quarter ended March 31, Google parent Alphabet tallied $55.31 billion in sales, the vast majority of that from ad sales on the company’s various platforms and advertising networks. Google is the largest player in the US online advertising market with a 31% share, according to eMarketer.

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