Unnamed sources are telling various media outlets that the federal trade commission (FTC) is looking into Google’s display advertising business to see if the company is engaging in anti-competitive behavior. The agency only recently ended a lengthy antitrust investigation of Google’s search business.
Bloomberg’s Brian Womack and Sara Forden reported, “Google Inc. is facing a new antitrust probe by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission into whether the company is using its leadership in the online display-advertising market to illegally curb competition, people familiar with the matter said. The fresh inquiry, which follows the FTC’s decision to close a review of Google’s search business in January without taking action, is in the preliminary stages and may not expand into a larger probe, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter hasn’t been made public.”
Reuters added, “The new line of inquiry focuses on tools acquired when Google bought display ad company Doubleclick in 2007; other firms which specialize in helping web publishers sell ads to put on their websites are complaining to the FTC, the source said. According to a second source familiar with the situation, Google has not been notified of any antitrust investigation so far.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati explained, “Some of Google’s advertising-technology rivals have complained to antitrust authorities that Google has allegedly combined several of its ad-related services for website publishers so that the publishers would have to use them all rather than just one Google service, according to people familiar with the matter. That process is known as ‘tying’ or ‘bundling.’ There is no evidence that website publishers themselves have complained to regulators.”
The Washington Post’s Craig Timberg noted, “European regulators, meanwhile, are in the final phases of an investigation into Google’s power over the search market and in the early phases of an inquiry into the company’s Android operating system, which has been used on more than 900 million mobile devices worldwide. Canadian regulators also have opened an antitrust investigation of the company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif.”