France’s competition watchdog, L’Autorite de la concurrence, has fined Google up to $268M in a case related to self-preferencing within the adtech market which the watchdog found constituted an abuse by Google of a dominant position for ad servers for website publishers and mobile apps. From a report: L’Autorite began looking into Google’s adtech business following complaints from a number of French publishers. Today it said Google had requested a settlement — and is “not disputing the facts of the case” — with the tech giant proposing certain ‘interoperability’ commitments that the regulator has accepted, and which will form a binding part of the decision. The watchdog called the action a world first in probing Google’s complex algorithmic ad auctions.
Commenting in a statement, L’Autorite’s president, Isabelle de Silva, said: “The decision sanctioning Google has a very special meaning because it is the first decision in the world to look into complex algorithmic processes. Auctions through which online display advertising works. The investigation, carried out particularly quickly, revealed the processes by which Google, relying on its considerable dominant position on ad servers for sites and applications, was favored over its competitors on both ad servers and SSP platforms. These very serious practices penalized competition in the emerging online advertising market, and have enabled Google not only to preserve but also to increase its dominant position. This sanction and these commitments will make it possible to restore a level playing field for all players, and the ability of publishers to make the most of their advertising space.”