Published On: Fri, Dec 20th, 2019

France slaps Google with $166M antitrust excellent for ambiguous and unsuitable ad rules

France’s foe watchdog has slapped Google with a €150 million (~$166M) excellent after anticipating a tech hulk abused a widespread position in a online hunt promotion market.

In a preference announced currently — following a extensive review into a online ad zone — a foe management sanctions Google for adopting what it describes as “opaque and formidable to understand” handling manners for a ad platform, Google Ads, and for requesting them in “an astray and pointless manner”.

The watchdog has systematic Google to explain how it draws adult manners for a operation of Google Ads and a procedures for suspending accounts. The tech hulk will also have to put in place measures to prevent, detect and understanding with violations of Google Ads rules.

A Google orator told TechCrunch a association will interest a decision.

The preference — that comes tough on a heels of a marketplace investigate news by a UK’s foe watchdog seeking for views on either Google should be damaged adult — relates to hunt ads that seem when a user of Google’s hunt engine searches for something and ads are served alongside organic hunt results.

More privately it relates to a manners Google relates to a Ads height that set conditions underneath that advertisers can promote ads — manners a watchdog found to be treacherous and inconsistently applied.

It also found Google had altered a position on a interpretation of a manners over time, that it pronounced generated instability for some advertisers who were kept in a conditions of authorised and mercantile insecurity.

In France, Google binds a widespread position in a online hunt market, with a hunt engine obliged for some-more than 90% of searches carried out and binds some-more than 80% of a online ad marketplace associated to searches, per a watchdog that records that that prevalence puts mandate on it to conclude handling manners of a ad height in an objective, pure and non-discriminatory manner.

However it found Google’s diction of ad manners unsuccessful to live adult to that customary — observant it is “not formed on any accurate and fast definition, that gives Google full embodiment to appreciate them according to situations”.

Explaining a preference in a press release the Autorité de la Concurrence writes [translated by Google Translate]:

[T]he French Competition Authority considers that a Google Ads handling manners imposed by Google on advertisers are determined and practical underneath non-objective, obscure and discriminatory conditions. The opacity and miss of objectivity of these manners make it really formidable for advertisers to ask them, while Google has all a option to cgange a interpretation of a manners in a approach that is formidable to predict, and confirm accordingly either a sites approve with them or not. This allows Google to ask them in a discriminatory or unsuitable manner. This leads to repairs both for advertisers and for hunt engine users.

The watchdog’s multi-year review of a online ad zone was instigated after a censure by a association called Gibmedia — that lifted an conflict some-more than 4 years ago after Google sealed a Google Ads criticism though notice.

At a time, Gibmedia requested provisional measures be taken. The watchdog deserted that ask in a 2015 preference though inaugurated to continue questioning “the merits of a case”. Today’s preference outlines a perfection of a investigation.

In a response matter on a decision, a Google orator told us: “People design to be stable from exploitative and violent ads and this is what a promotion policies are for.”

Its matter also claims Gibmedia was “running ads for websites that cheated people into profitable for services on misleading billing terms”. “We do not wish these kinds of ads on a systems, so we dangling Gibmedia and gave adult promotion income to strengthen consumers from harm,” a Google orator added.

However a watchdog’s press recover anticipates and unpicks this justification — indicating out that while carrying an design of consumer insurance is “perfectly legitimate” it does not clear Google treating advertisers in “a differentiated and pointless demeanour in allied situations”.

“Google can't postpone a criticism of an advertiser on a drift that it would offer services that it considers discordant to a interests of a consumer, while identical to anxiety and accompany on a promotion height sites that sell identical services,” it writes.

While a watchdog does not state that it found justification Google used obscure and inconsistently practical ad manners in a counsel try to retard competitors, it asserts a function displays “at best negligence, during misfortune opportunism”.

It also suggests that another component of Google ad manners could lead sites to preference a calm process aligned with a possess ad-funded services — thereby pulling online publishers to adopt an mercantile indication that feeds and advantages a own.

During Google’s doing of a now authorised practices a watchdog points out that a association has perceived unchanging warnings around EU foe manners — observant a fibre of European Commission antitrust decisions opposite Google products in new years. (Most recently, in March, Google was fined ~$1.7BN for antitrust violations associated to a hunt ad brokering business, AdSense.)

While, given 2010, it says it has released a series of decisions associated to a drafting and focus of manners on a ad marketplace that Google could also have taken note of.

In serve to being fined, being compulsory to explain a procedures and to set adult a complement of alerts to assistance advertisers equivocate criticism suspensions, a preference requires Google to classify imperative annual training for Google Ads support staff.

It contingency also contention an annual news to a watchdog naming a series of complaints filed opposite it by French Internet users; a series of sites and accounts suspended; a inlet of a Rules disregarded and a terms of a suspension.

Within dual months of today’s preference Google contingency also benefaction a watchdog with a news detailing a measures and procedures it will take to take to approve with a orders. A serve news is due within 6 months detailing all a measures and procedures Google has indeed put in place.

Google has also now posted a lengthier response to a preference in a blog post attributed to Maria Gomri, authorised executive for Google France who writes: “The inspection of regulators can lead to improvements in a products and a policies that oversee them. However, today’s preference would extent a ability to soon and decisively tackle violent online practices. While we have prolonged worked constructively with regulators, and will continue to do so, in this case, we remonstrate with a end and we devise to appeal.”

At a start of this year Google was also fined $57M by France’s information insurance watchdog for violations of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

This news was updated with additional criticism from Google

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