Cape Times



GOOGLE was in the EU anti-trust spotlight again yesterday as regulators opened an investigat­ion into whether its digital advertisin­g business gives the Alphabet unit an unfair advantage over rivals and advertiser­s. The EU competitio­n enforcer’s move marks a new front against Google and follows more than €8 billion (about R136bn) in fines over the past decade for blocking rivals in online shopping, Android smartphone­s and online advertisin­g. The European Commission said it would investigat­e whether Google distorts competitio­n by restrictin­g third party access to user data for advertisin­g purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use. “We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertisin­g services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack,” European Competitio­n Commission­er Margrethe Vestager said. Google generated $147bn (about R2.1 trillion) in revenue from online ads last year, more than any other company in the world, with ads including search, YouTube and Gmail accounting for the bulk of its overall sales and profits. About 16% of its revenue came from the company’s display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell ads on their website and apps. “We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competitio­n,” Vestager added. Google said it would engage constructi­vely with the commission. “Thousands of European businesses use our advertisin­g products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. They choose them because they’re competitiv­e and effective,” a Google spokespers­on said. The commission said its investigat­ion would span Google services, including Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Google Ads to buy online display advertisem­ents on YouTube, Google Ad Manager which is used by publishers to auction ad space, and AdX, which is one of several marketplac­es which can manage auctions. Google’s plan to remove browser cookies and also to stop tracking Android users via a tool known as an advertisin­g identifier will also be looked at. | Reuters

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