Google: Antitrust investigation accelerates and focuses on its advertising tools

The US Justice Department is no longer looking into Google’s ad-tech activity.

Since 2019, an antitrust investigation has been launched against Google, after the company was in the sights of the authorities . In recent months, as the Wall Street Journal reveals , more than a dozen publishers and advertising agencies have been interviewed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Investigators’ questions included how they interact with Google’s advertising tools.

Survey tightens on Google’s advertising tools
As part of their investigation, the American authorities asked many questions about Google’s advertising activities to more than a dozen different players. Among them, media such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times . These questions were also asked of Google executives.

Specifically, the majority of the investigators’ questions focus on the two measures taken by the giant in recent years. Namely, the integration of its own ad server, which allows websites to sell advertising space, and Google’s decision to require advertisers to use its tools to buy advertising space on Youtube.

According to Michael Nevins, marketing director of Google’s rival ad technology Smart AdServer, “ Investigators focus on the right subjects ”. Indeed, Google is visibly criticized for its ad-tech activity. The giant has software used to buy and sell advertisements on websites, and this software is a tool that gives it anti-competitive power according to publishers and advertising rivals.

Will the attorneys general and the justice department soon be brought together?
State attorneys general, who are conducting their own investigation into Google, met with justice officials on Tuesday. This meeting could lead to closer collaboration in the context of their two investigations.

These exchanges between the two parties could allow sharing of the information collected, but also an acceleration of the investigation thanks to a better distribution of tasks. Because their investigations are substantially similar. Indeed, a few months ago, the authorities representing the State had already sent their questions on the internal functioning of its ad-tech products to Google.

With regard to questions from the Department of Justice, some placed the advertising agencies interviewed in a delicate situation. Because many of them use Google tools and the American giant is also an important client for some of them. These are the things that could strain relations between them.

This in-depth investigation could affect the other GAFAs this year. Remember that all have been under antitrust investigation for several months, they had to provide documents to the authorities last October.