The competition watchdog has launched a probe into whether Google has behaved illegally by limiting competition in the digital advertising tech market.
The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) unveiled a second investigation into the tech giant, after scrutinising an agreement between Google and Meta.
Google is a dominant player within advertising tech intermediation – referred to as the ‘ad tech stack’ – which involves services enabling the sale of online advertising space between publishers and advertisers.
The US titan charges fees to both publishers and advertisers.
“We will continue to work with the CMA to answer their questions and share the details on how our systems work,” Google said.
“We’re worried that Google may be using its position in ad tech to favour its own services to the detriment of its rivals, of its customers and ultimately of consumers,” Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said.
“This would be bad for the millions of people who enjoy access to a wealth of free information online every day.”
The CMA is scrutinising three parts of the chain of services, with Google owning the largest service provider in each part.
It will look at demand-side platforms, which allow advertisers and media agencies to buy publishers’ advertising inventory from many sources, in addition to ad exchanges, which automate the sale of these inventories.
The CMA will also probe publisher ad servers, which organise the publisher’s inventory and choose which advert to show. These are based on the offers received from different exchanges or direct deals between buyers and sellers.