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Margrethe Vestager: Brussels opens an investigation into Google and Facebook for an agreement on Internet advertising | Economy

The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.Reuters

Margrethe Vestager, guardian of the free market in the EU and nemesis of the tech giants, launches a new crusade against Google and Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook). The department of the European Commissioner for Competition announced this Friday the opening of an investigation against both American digital emporiums on suspicions that an agreement they sealed in 2018 on Internet advertising services could lead to a violation of the bloc’s antitrust legislation community.

The investigations of the Executive of the EU have been launched together with the competition authorities of the United Kingdom and following in the wake of the United States, where the pact between the companies, known as Jedi Blueis also under investigation.

The intention of Brussels is to clarify whether Google agreed with Facebook in 2018 to attack and eliminate a competing technology of Open Bidding, the Google system developed to auction and position digital advertising. The investigation aims to reveal whether both multinationals colluded with the aim of weakening and excluding potential rivals from the lucrative market for displaying ads in a sector already dominated by very few players.

“If confirmed by our investigation,” Commissioner Vestagher said in a statement, “this would restrict and distort competition in the already concentrated ad tech market, to the detriment of rival ad tech, publishers and, in Ultimately, consumers.

“If a company has a stranglehold on a certain area, it can make it difficult for new companies and smaller companies to enter the market and, ultimately, it can reduce the possibilities of choice for customers”, added Andrea Coscelli, Director of the UK Competition and Markets Authority. “We will not stop monitoring the behavior of large technology companies.”

Through a statement, Google has assured that “the allegations presented in this case are false” and that the pact with Meta “is a publicly documented and pro-competitive agreement,” according to the AFP Agency. Meta has assured that it is willing to cooperate with open investigations, and has insisted that the agreement allowed “an increase in value for advertisers and advertisers” and that this allowed “better results for everyone”.

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Through its Open Bidding program, Google provides ad technology services that mediate between advertisers and publishers by auctioning off online ad space on websites or mobile apps in real time. Meta, for its part, provides advertising services on the Internet and, through the Meta Audience Network system, participates in auctions of third-party advertising space using the ad technology services of Google and also those of its rivals.

The Commission’s investigation wants to unravel whether the agreement between the two signed in 2018, by which the Meta Audience Network was included in Google’s Open Bidding program, was actually a ruse by both to close the market to Google’s competitors in the advertising auction system.

Google is one of the companies that has received the most blows from the department of Margrethe Vestagher for various antitrust causes, which have ended with multimillion-dollar sanctions. Google’s bill with the Commission currently amounts to 8,240 million euros. In June, in addition, Brussels opened a new case against this company for alleged monopolistic practices in the advertising market. That same month, the Commission announced an investigation of Facebook for abuse of position in the classifieds sector.

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