Commission imposes EUR1.49 billion ne on Google for abusing its dominance in the online advertising intermediation market

On 20 March 2019, Google was ned EUR 1.49 billion for infringing EU Competition Law. The Commission found that Google had abused its dominance in the online advertising intermediation market by including anticompetitive clauses in its contracts with third party websites.

Through its AdSense for Search, Google acts as an intermediary between advertisers and website owners willing to use the space around their search results pages to make pro t. The Commission’s investigation con rmed that Google was the dominant operator in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (“EEA”): in between 2006 and 2016, it held market shares above 70% in the EEA.

The Commission’s investigation has shown that, as from 2006, in hundreds of the agreements concluded between Google and the most commercially important publishers, Google had imposed exclusivity clauses. This prevented publishers from displaying adverts from competitors on their search result pages.

The investigation has also revealed that, as of March 2009: (i) these exclusivity clauses were gradually replaced by “Premium Placement” clauses, which obliged publishers to reserve the most pro table spaces for Google’s adverts; and (ii) new clauses were introduced in the contracts so as to require Google’s wri en approval in order for publishers to be able to change the way Google’s competitors’ ads were displayed.

In other words, Google imposed exclusive supply obligations and, later, implemented a “relaxed exclusivity” strategy with the aim of keeping for its own search adverts the best positions as well as controlling the performance of competing adverts.

These practices constituted an abuse of dominance in the online search advertising intermediation market,contrarytoArticle102oftheTreatyontheFunctioningoftheEU(“TFEU”).Asaconsequence, competition and consumers were harmed, innovation was hindered and websites’ owners were obliged to use Google almost exclusively. No e ciencies were demonstrated by Google.

Related : Gomez-Acebo & Pombo ( Mr. Miguel Troncoso-Ferrer )


Mr. Miguel Troncoso-Ferrer Mr. Miguel Troncoso-Ferrer

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