Google is paying a $268 million fine and, in a first, has agreed to overhaul its advertising platform to settle an antitrust probe in France.
After a two-year investigation, the French Competition Authority found that Google had used its ad-management platform for publishers to bolster its ad marketplace, where publishers sell inventory in real time. “Google took advantage of its vertical integration to skew the process,” said Isabelle de Silva, the authority’s president, at a press conference on Monday.
When publishers display ads on a site, they have two options. One is to run ads they’ve sold directly to advertisers. The other is to sell space to an exchange, where multiple advertisers bid to run their ads. In the latter case, known as programmatic advertising, publishers will often put ad space up for auction on multiple exchanges, but they’ll typically use only one ad server to coordinate the auctions and award-winning bids.