Google to update advertising practices after €220m fine

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 8 June 2021

Google has agreed to make changes to its global advertising practices after being hit with a €220 million fine by Frances’ competition watchdog.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) has been looking into Google’s ad tech for the past two years, particularly the dominance of its publisher platform Google Ad Manager.

The watchdog found that the US tech giant has been promoting its own ad services, cementing its dominance while hurting rivals.

As part of a resolution to the investigation, Google said it would make changes to its advertising practices, with some to roll out globally.

“While we believe we offer valuable services and compete on the merits, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products,” says Google France legal director Maria Gomri.

“That’s why, as part of an overall resolution of the FCA’s investigation, we have agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies.

“We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally.”

As part of the updates, Google will work to ensure all buyers that a publisher works with, including those participating in Header Bidding, can receive equal access to data related to outcomes from Ad Manager auctions, particularly information around the “minimum bid to win” from previous auctions.

Google will also increase the flexibility of Google Ad Manager to allow partners to set custom pricing rules for ads that are in ‘sensitive categories’ and implement product changes that improve interoperability between Ad Manager and third-party ad servers. Google is also doubling down on its position to not limit Ad Manager publishers from negotiating specific terms or pricing directly with other sell-side platforms (SSPs).

The fine from French authorities comes as Australia’s competition watchdog holds its own investigation into the ad tech space. The final report into the inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is set to be handed down on August 31.

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