European Publishers Contest Google’s AdTech Supremacy


European publishers are setting their sights on Google, addressing a new complaint to the European Commission, spotlighting the technology giant’s alleged monopolistic practices in the digital advertising sphere. This recent challenge is a continuation of a longstanding clash involving European Union media entities and Google’s supposed competitive constriction in the adtech sector.

The European Publishers Council (EPC), composed of major industry players such as Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, Bonnier News, and Editorial Prensa Iberica, has brought its case before the Commission. The Council argues that Google wields excessive control over ad technologies often at the expense of publishers.

Online advertisements represent the core of Alphabet Inc.’s revenue, with the sector contributing $147 billion out of the total $183 billion revenue in 2020. This figure represents more than 80% of the company’s earnings, as revealed by its annual financial report of the same year.

For well over a decade, Google has been leading the online ad market, with 2021 projections from eMarketer expecting the corporation to hold nearly 29% of the worldwide digital ad spend.

The European Commission has been entrusted to ascertain if Google’s actions contravene EU’s strict competition standards by possibly prioritizing its own online display ad technology services in the ad tech supply chain, to the disadvantage of rival ad technology services, advertisers, and online publishers.

Apart from facing three significant EU antitrust actions over the past decade, Google has managed to steer clear of more intensive investigations into its adtech infrastructure – until now.

Not particularly shocking to industry observers, these allegations are an escalation of the ongoing dissatisfaction among publishers concerning Google’s comprehensive ad-tech ecosystem, which was estimated to facilitate 90% of all online ad transactions in 2020.

EPC Chairman Christian Van Thillo called for the European Commission to enforce measures that actually alter Google’s conduct. He emphasizes Google’s staggering hold on the ad tech value chain, with shares reaching from 90 to 100% in certain areas.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust watchdog, has already imposed over 8 billion euros ($9.2 billion) in fines on Google for anticompetitive activities across three separate incidents. The EPC accuses Google of resorting to numerous illicit strategies to edge out competition in the adtech realm since the acquisition of the ad service company DoubleClick in 2008, securing itself an unparalleled market presence.

In response to these recent events, Google insists it plans to engage with the European Commission in a constructive manner.

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