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UK and EU launch antitrust investigation into Google and Meta over ad practices

By Roland Udvarlaki March 11, 2022, 8:30 am
UK and EU antitrust investigation Google Meta Source: Pocketnow

Google and Meta are being investigated by the EU and UK antitrust regulators over their advertising practices. The regulators claim that the two software giants partnered up and created a “Jedi Blue” agreement between them to restrict and block out competition from the concentrated advertising market. It’s worth noting that Google is already facing several antitrust lawsuits over its uncompetitive practices. Google was also recently sued by a Swedish price comparison service for €2.1 billion for manipulating search results.

Both the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) from the UK are investigating if the two companies restricted or prevented other companies from offering advertising services to other brands, blocking them from being able to compete in the ad-tech area. The regulators are concerned whether Google and Meta teamed up to block out the competition from offering competitive services.

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Margrethe Vestager, the Exectuvei Vice-Predsent from the EU said that:

“Many publishers rely on online display advertising to fund online content for consumers. Via the so-called “Jedi Blue” agreement between Google and Meta, a competing technology to Google's Open Bidding may have been targeted with the aim to weaken it and exclude it from the market for displaying ads on publisher websites and apps. If confirmed by our investigation, this would restrict and distort competition in the already concentrated ad tech market, to the detriment of rival ad serving technologies, publishers and ultimately consumers.”

The CMA will also investigate the two companies for the very same reasons, as stated:

“As part of its investigation, the CMA will consider whether an agreement between Google and Meta (previously Facebook) – which Google internally codenamed “Jedi Blue” – broke the law. . The CMA is also scrutinising Google’s conduct in relation to header bidding services more widely to see if the firm abused a dominant position and gained an unfair advantage over competitors trying to provide a similar service.”

If Google or Meta are found to have breached the EU competition law, each of the companies could be fined for up 10-percent of their global annual revenue, but as will all investigations like this, it will likely take years until the regulators can come to a conclusion.

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