Google Hit With €1.5 Billion Fine Over Online Advertising

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager from Denmark speaks at a news conference on the concurrence case with Google online search advertising at the European Commission in Brussels Belgium 20 March 2019. The EU on 20 March 2019 fined Goog

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager from Denmark speaks at a news conference on the concurrence case with Google online search advertising at the European Commission in Brussels Belgium 20 March 2019. The EU on 20 March 2019 fined Goog

Google is on the receiving end of a €1.5bn (£1.28bn) fine from European regulators over antitrust violations within the online advertising marketing, making it the third fine to be issued by the watchdog in two years.

The commission found that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, breached the European Union antitrust rules by imposing restrictive clauses in contracts with websites that used AdSense, preventing Google rivals from placing their ads on these sites. Sites that participated in Google's "AdSense for Search" program could take advantage of Google's search tools on their Web pages, and users who searched those sites would see results alongside ads served up by Google. That prevented Google rivals from placing their ads on these sites, the EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said Wednesday.

"Google's practices covered over half the market by turnover throughout most of the period", the competition commission said. When a user searches using this search function, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

After the Commission's July 2018 decision, we changed the licensing model for the Google apps we build for use on Android phones, creating new, separate licenses for Google Play, the Google Chrome browser, and for Google Search.

Google made the adjustments shortly before a €1.49 (£1.28) fine was handed down by European regulators on Wednesday.

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Vestager also cautiously welcomed the "browser choice" proposal Google made this week, offering to give users a choice of browser and default search engine on their Android device.

The European Commission provided this helpful graphic of Google's custom search ad practices.

She added that the "misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition". The first one, which involved the company favoring its shopping services in search results, was for €2.4 billion.

"We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest".

Google announced on Tuesday that it was making changes to address the commission's concerns about the Android case, in a move that could promote more competition. Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. All we know is that it is arriving "over the next few months".

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