UK competition watchdog investigates Google’s dominance in digital ad tech
What do you want to know
- The UK Competition and Markets Authority is investigating potential antitrust breaches by Google in the area of digital advertising technology.
- The investigation focuses on the search giant’s dominant position in the ad tech market.
- Authorities fear that Google’s dominance in this space could freeze rival ad servers.
Google’s position in the digital ad technology market has UK competition authorities worried. The Competition and Markets Authority today announced that it has opened an investigation into Google’s dominance in digital advertising technology trading.
The CMA’s investigation revolves around Google’s “strong positions” in the digital ad tech stack, a type of middle system where ad space is sold and bought. The competition watchdog suspects the dominance of the company’s ad-tech stack is stifling competition with third-party ad servers.
“We are concerned that Google is using its position in ad technology to favor its own services over rivals, customers and ultimately consumers,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli. “That would be bad for the millions of people who enjoy access to a wealth of free information online every day.”
Authorities want to look at three key areas of the ad tech stack where they suspect the search giant has a dominant position. These include demand-side platforms (DSPs) where advertisers and media agencies purchase publishers’ ad inventory from multiple vendors; ad exchanges, which automate the sale of publisher inventory; and ad servers, which select which ads to display.
“The CMA is assessing whether Google’s practices in these parts of the ad tech stack may distort competition,” the CMA said in a press release. (opens in a new tab). “These include whether Google has limited the interoperability of its ad exchange with third-party publisher ad servers and/or contractually tied those services together, making it more difficult for competing ad servers to compete. .”
Google was not immediately available when contacted by Android Central for comment.
Competition regulators are concerned that the Mountain View-based company has abused its publisher ad server and DSPs to favor its own ad exchange platform over competitors.
The CMA noted that this is the second antitrust investigation into Google’s ad technology practices. In March, antitrust regulators in the EU and UK launched an investigation into Google and Meta’s ad-tech deal called “Jedi Blue,” which has come under fire for potentially shutting down small ad servers.
The latest regulatory action comes just weeks after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced plans to introduce a bill (opens in a new tab) aimed at breaking the stranglehold of Google and other tech giants on the digital advertising market.