The U.K.’s competition regulator has launched a new investigation into Google, taking aim at the firm’s position in the advertising technology market. It’s the second major UK antitrust probe to target Google’s ad dominance in the U.K. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Thursday that it was evaluating whether Google’s role in the ad tech industry may be distorting competition.
UK Antitrust Probe is Launched to Investigate Google Unlawful Dominance
The tech giant is a dominant player in the online ad market. Google works as both a demand-side platform, which offers publishers’ ad inventory to marketers, and an ad exchange, which lets advertisers compete for advertising space on publishers’ websites, the CMA stated. It also operates ad servers that manage publishers’ inventory.
Regulators are concerned Google may have unlawfully favored its own ad exchange services to the detriment of rivals. The CMA is also worried Google limited the compatibility of its ad exchange with third-party ad servers to make it harder for competing ad servers to compete, hence the UK antitrust probe.
Eliminating Competition Can Reduce the Ad Revenues of Publishers
“Weakening competition in this area could reduce the ad revenues of publishers, who may be forced to compromise the quality of their content to cut costs or put their content behind paywalls,” Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “It may also be raising costs for advertisers which are passed on through higher prices for advertised goods and services.” It comes after an earlier competition probe from both the U.K. and EU into “Jedi Blue.” The deal allegedly involved Google and Meta rigging auctions for online ads and illegally fixing prices.