The French competition regulator fined Google € 150m, or about $ 166m, after finding Google abused its dominant position in the online search results advertising market.
In a decision announced on Friday – and after a lengthy investigation into the online advertising industry – the regulator punished Google for adopting what it described as “opaque and difficult to understand” operating rules for the Google Ads ad platform, and for applying these rules “unfairly and randomly”.
Concern is due to heavy Chinese investment in applications like TikTok
The regulator has ordered Google to clarify how it makes rules for the operation of Google Ads and its procedures for suspending accounts. The technology giant will also have to put in place measures to prevent, detect and deal with violations of Google Ads platform rules.
Google has already confirmed to TechCrunch that it will appeal this decision.
The decision – which comes in the wake of a market research report by the UK competition authority asking for opinions on whether or not Google should be split – refers to ads that are served along with Google search results. .
More specifically, it refers to the rules that Google applies to its Google Ads platform that define the conditions that must be met for advertisers to serve the ads – rules that the regulator considered “confusing and inconsistently enforced”.
The regulator also found that Google had shifted its position on the interpretation of rules over time, which created instability for some advertisers who were kept in a situation of legal and economic insecurity.
In France, Google has a dominant position in the online search market, with its search engine accounting for over 90% of searches performed and holding over 80% of the search-related online ad market, according to a regulator that notes that this domain requires objective, transparent and non-discriminatory operating rules for the Google ad platform.
The problem is that the regulator found that Google's rules do not comply with this standard, saying that they "are not based on any precise and stable definition, which gives Google complete freedom to interpret them according to each situation. "
In addition to having to pay the fine imposed by the Autorité de la Concurrence, being required to clarify its procedures and set up an alert system to help advertisers avoid account suspensions, the regulator's decision requires Google to also organize annual training. required for the Google Ads support team.
The company should also submit an annual report to the regulator specifying the number of complaints filed against it by French Internet users; the number of sites and accounts suspended; the nature of the Rules violated and the terms of the suspension.
Within two months of today's decision, Google should also submit a report detailing the measures and procedures that will be required to fulfill orders. An additional report should be submitted within six months detailing all the measures and procedures that Google has actually put in place.
Source: TechCrunch, Autorité de la Concurrence (in french)
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