Earlier this week, 50 state attorneys general opened an antitrust investigation on Googles $116 billion advertising business. Officials want information on how it collects data, its pricing models and its acquisition of smaller online advertising companies.
The investigation draws on claims from elected officials, rival companies and consumer advocacy groups. Google denies any wrongdoing:
“Ad tech is a very crowded field, and Google competes with hundreds of companies, including household names like Adobe, Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, News Corp and Verizon,” company spokesman Josh Zeitz said. “Publishers and advertisers mix and match technology partners to meet their different needs, creating both competition and innovation.”
Reuters heard from 10 advertising industry executives who shared the most common concerns with Google’s anti-competitive behavior.
First, they claim that Googles search dominance and ownership of YouTube constitutes a monopoly, making smaller platforms unattractive to advertisers. Second, Google’s been swallowing up smaller competitors such as seller tools companies DoubleClick and AdMob, making business harder for the firms remaining to compete with a growing giant. Third, since Google is so massive and can fund a diversity of services, it can bundle packages to consumers at prices that competitors can’t match. Fourth, Google has the ability to scan the entire advertising ecosystem to price match in ways its rivals cannot. And fifth, competitors allege that Google’s Chrome browser, which boats a 50% market share gives Google an unfair advantage. Chrome users typically sing into their Gmail or Google accounts and Google tracks their every browsing move to better target ads directly to users.
For years, tech companies were allowed to flourish and grow, more or less unchecked. Those days are coming to an end.