Google is under investigation again by the EU, this time over its online ads business

Google's CEO Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive. The tech giant is facing another investigation from the EU. Justin Sullivan /Getty Images
  • The EU has launched a fresh antitrust investigation into Google’s advertising practices.
  • European officials previously fined the tech giant close to $10 billion over antitrust claims.
  • Google said it would engage with the bloc and answer the questions put to it during the inquiry.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The European Union has launched another investigation into Google over its advertising practices.

The fresh inquiry will examine the extent to which Google has favored its display-ad technology over competitors’ and whether it broke antitrust rules.

The EU has already fined the tech giant over claims of anticompetitive behavior – involving search, shopping, and Android – three times in three years: first for $2.7 billion in 2017, again for $5 billion in 2018, and once more for $1.7 billion in 2019.

The firm has repeatedly rejected the EU’s findings, and it met officials in court to appeal the first fine earlier this year.

In a statement Tuesday, the EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, said she was concerned that Google had “made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete” because of its dominance of the market supply chain.

As part of its investigation, the European Commission plans to look at whether advertisers are unfairly forced into using Google’s services such as AdX and DV360.

AdX is an ads-exchange platform that allows users to bid for online advertising space in real time. DV360, or Display and Video 360, is used to manage ads: displaying their success, monitoring budgets, and offering recommendations for new campaigns.

Officials also expect to examine Google’s plans to do away with third-party advertising cookies in Google Chrome, a plan that sent the ads industry into a tailspin when it was first announced in January 2020.

“Fair competition is important,” Vestager said. “Both for advertisers to reach consumers on publishers’ sites and for publishers to sell their space to advertisers, to generate revenues and funding for content.”

The European competition chief also said the commission would look at Google’s policies on user tracking to “make sure they are in line with fair competition.”

About 80% of Google’s revenue comes through advertising on its network of products, such as its search engine and YouTube, accounting for about $147 billion last year.

“Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day,” a Google representative told Insider. “They choose them because they’re competitive and effective.

“We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers.”

The news comes shortly after UK officials announced they were scrutinizing both Apple and Google over whether their combined dominance of the mobile ecosystem could be harming users and businesses.

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