Alphabet Inc’s Google is close to settling an antitrust investigation in France. This is over allegations that abused its power in online advertising. This is reported on the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is expected to pay a fine and institute operational changes. Google’s tool to help websites and apps sell ads gave Google’s online ad auction system. This is an advantage over rival exchanges, said the French Competition Authority.
The newspaper report stated that Google offered to settle the matter by removing obstacles that it puts up against competitors. This settlement could be among the first resolutions in a wave of investigations or lawsuits that targets Google’s ads business. This has generated $147 billion in revenue last year. This is more than any other internet company. For abusing its dominant position in the search of advertising market, the Authority has fined Google 150 million euros ($183 million). They say that the operating rules of Google advertising platform were opaque and difficult to understand and were applied in an unfair and random manner.
Google spokeswoman Leslie Pitterson did not comment on the reported settlement but she said that the company’s third-party ad tech products work with both Google’s partner’s and competitor’s products. She said that they continue to take in feedback and make updates to better serve users and the wider ecosystem. If approved by the Competition Authority’s board this deal could be announced in weeks and would be binding only in France.
Most of Google’s sales comes from search and YouTube ads. About $23 billion last year was tied to help publishers sell ads and the connections between Google’s dueling businesses are drawing antitrust scrutiny. This includes calls from critics for a break-up. Google also is fighting lawsuits in the United States from several advertisers, rivals and publishers around similar issue of breaking antitrust law.