This is the second antitrust probe Google faces in the United Kingdom over the past year.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), UK’s competition regulator, announced earlier today that it had opened a fresh investigation into Google.
The investigation focuses on Google’s role in the advertising technology market. This is the second major antitrust probe into Google over the past year.
The CMA launched a separate investigation alongside the European Union into Google and Facebook parent company Meta a few months ago.
The investigation focuses on concerns that a 2018 pact between the two companies, known as “Jedi Blue,” made it tough for other companies to enter the digital advertising space.
The CMA announced on Thursday that it is currently looking into whether Google’s role in the ad tech industry may be negatively affecting competition. Google remains one of the leading players in the online ad market.
The CMA said the search engine giant serves as a demand-side platform that offers publishers’ ad inventory to marketers. It also acts as an ad exchange, allowing advertisers to compete for advertising space on publishers’ websites.
Furthermore, Google also runs ad servers that manage publishers’ inventory, the CMA added.
The UK’s competition regulator is concerned that Google may have illegally favored its own ad exchange, making it tougher for its rivals to thrive in the space.
The CMA also said it was worried Google limited the compatibility of its ad exchange with third-party ad servers to ensure that other ad servers find it hard to compete.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive said;
“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. It may also be raising costs for advertisers which are passed on through higher prices for advertised goods and services.”
The CMA is seeking more powers to scrutinise and regulate e anti-competitive behavior from tech giants under a new regulatory body called the Digital Markets Unit.
If approved, the new regulator can pose fines of up to 10% of tech companies’ global annual revenues if they breach the new digital rules.