Friday 15 March 2019 10:19 am

Google braced for EU fine over advertising competition breach

The EU’s competition commission is set to hit Google with another fine following an investigation into its advertising business.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will announce the fine next week following a probe into Google AdSense, the Financial Times reported, citing three people familiar with the case.

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Google has already paid almost €7bn (£5.9bn) in fines after breaching EU antitrust laws relating to the market dominance of its Android phones and the unfair promotion of its own shopping service over competitors. Google has appealed both verdicts.

The latest probe focuses on the tech giant’s advertising programme, which allows publishers to run adverts alongside their content.

The EU can hand down a maximum fine of 10 per cent of a company’s turnover for competition breaches, equating to roughly $13bn (£9.8bn) for Google.

But the fine is expected to be significantly lower than this sum, according to the report. Google has cooperated with the EU and made a number of changes to its policies, which could lead to a softening of the fine.

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The case is based on Google’s commercial contracts that required website publishers to use its ad programme exclusively. In 2009 the firm changed the contracts to allow publishers to user other ad providers.

Google and the EU competition commission declined to comment.