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Publishers’ body lodges complaint against Google for anti-competitive ad-tech practices

Publishers’ body lodges complaint against Google for anti-competitive ad-tech practices
Photo Credit: Pixabay
16 Feb, 2022
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The European Publishers Council (EPC), a group of chairmen and CEOs of leading European media groups representing companies which are active in news media, television, radio, digital market places, journals, eLearning, databases and books, has lodged an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against online search giant Google for indulging in anticompetitive advertisement technology (ad-tech) practises.    

Google currently has over press publishers, and all other businesses in the ad-tech ecosystem. EPC claims that the move was necessitated with the aim to bid to break the ‘ad-tech Stranglehold’ of the California-based firm.  

“EPC calls on the European Commission to hold Google accountable for its anticompetitive conduct and impose remedies to restore conditions of effective competition in the ad tech value chain,” the council said in a statement.  

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EPC Chairman Christian Van Thillo said, “It is high time for the European Commission to impose measures on Google that actually change, not just challenge, its behaviour – behaviour that has caused and continues to cause considerable harm, not just to Europe’s press publishers, but to all advertisers and eventually consumers in the form of higher prices (including ad tech fees), less choice, less transparency and less innovation.”

EPC complaint comes as a consequence of the European Commission opening a formal antitrust investigation last year to assess whether Google has violated EU competition rules by favouring its own online display advertising technology services in the ad-tech supply chain, to the detriment of competing providers of advertising technology services, advertisers and online publishers.   

Media reports suggest that the antitrust complaint was with reference to Google parent company Alphabet Inc’s digital advertising arm generating $147 billion worth of business in 2020. In 2021, Alphabet Inc. crossed the $250 billion-mark primarily because its internet advertising and cloud computing businesses did a sustained growth during the pandemic.   

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In response to the antitrust complaint, a Google spokesperson said that when publishers choose to use our advertising services, they keep the majority of revenue and every year we pay out billions of dollars directly to the publishing partners in our ad-network.