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Google hit by second UK antitrust probe into online ad dominance


Google’s U.K. office in London.

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A new investigation has been opened by the U.K. competition regulator. GoogleThis is a direct attack on the company’s place in the marketing technology market.

This is the second major antitrust investigation to focus on Google’s advertising practices in the U.K. Launched by the Competition and Markets Authority separate investigationWith the European Union, into Google and Facebook parent companies Meta earlier this year over concerns that a 2018 pact between the two companies — known as “Jedi Blue” — restricted competition in digital advertising.

CMA announced Thursday that they were evaluating whether Google’s influence in the adtech industry could be causing a distortion of competition. Google is the dominant online advertiser.

According to the CMA, Google is both a demand-side marketplace that offers inventory from publishers to advertisers and an ad platform that lets them compete for advertising space. Google also has ad servers that manage inventory for publishers.

Regulators fear that Google could have improperly favoured its own advertising exchange services against the will of other competitors. CMA also fears that Google may have made it more difficult for rival ad server to compete by limiting the compatibility between its ad exchange and third-party ads servers.

Andrea Coscelli said that a weakening of competition in the area could result in publishers losing a lot of their ad revenue. He also suggested that they may have to lower the quality or place paywalls on their content.

Advertisers may be paying more for their products and services.

This follows an EU and U.K. competition probe into “Jedi Blue.” According to the deal, Meta and Google were accused of rigging auctions online for ads and fixing prices illegally.

CMA seeks more power to investigate anti-competitive behaviour from tech companies under the Digital Markets Unit, a new regulator. A new regulator was proposed for 2020. It would be empowered to impose penalties of up to 10% on global revenues of technology companies that break new digital regulations. But, this is not the first time that the government has given these powers to its watchdog.