The information sheds new light on the recent visit, at the end of May, of the boss of Google to Brussels. The European Commission will formalize, this Wednesday, June 14, a new complaint against the champion of online advertising, indicates the “Wall Street Journal” confirming information from Bloomberg.
According to the American business daily, the abuse of a dominant position alleged against Google is so significant that Brussels is even considering imposing on Sundar Pichai’s company the sale of part of its advertising technology empire. This punchy intervention would be in line with the request of the American Department of Justice, at the beginning of the year, to dismantle Google.
Google, present at all links in the chain
On both sides of the Atlantic, the grievances against the owner of Doubleclick are more or less the same. Present at many links in the complex chain of online advertising – helping websites to sell their advertising space while helping advertisers to occupy these spaces – Google is accused of capturing value under the nose and beard of the publishers of websites and to prevent the emergence of a competing offer.
Google refutes any abuse of a dominant position and regularly explains its success by the efficiency and competitiveness of its software. Complementary to the sale of its own online ad space, the advertising technology activity constituted approximately 14% of the group’s advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2023, or 10% of revenue over the period. .
An uncertain procedure
The new complaint from Brussels, under the aegis of Vice-Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition issues, concludes an investigation opened in 2021. But nothing says that it will really lead to a split in the Mountain View company.
Apart from the breakup of the AT&T monopoly in the United States in the 1980s, precedents are rare. Threatened, IBM and Microsoft have escaped it in the past. The procedure will undoubtedly be very long and will only order a potential separation at the very end, if the alleged facts are confirmed and when it comes to deciding on a remedy.
Already 8.4 billion euros fine
Accustomed to antitrust charges in Brussels, Google has already been condemned three times by Europe in other cases. Not to mention the fine of 220 million euros imposed by the French competition authority in 2021, the American group had to pay 8.2 billion euros in fines to the European Union for its anti-competitive practices in price comparators (Google Shopping), mobile operating systems (Android) and advertising on its AdSense search engine.
Google also had to change its practices. But this time, the regulator seems to think that a change in behavior will not be enough to solve the problem.