US tech giant Google has been fined €220m (£189m) in France for abusing its advertising power.
The French competition watchdog said that Google had been pushing its own advertising services online whilst stifling the services of rival companies.
It was found that Google’s Ad Manager platform for large publishers favoured the tech outfit’s own marketplace, Google AdX.
Google said that it would make amendments to how it conducts its advertising business online. The company has also promised to make its data and tools more accessible to publishers.
"We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally," a company spokesperson said.
This is not the first time that Google has been hit with a large fine for violating European advertising laws. In 2017 the company faced a €2.42bn (£2.08bn) fine for obstructing rivals on online shopping comparison sites.
The following year Google was fined a record €4.34bn (£3.9bn) by the EU competition authority for using its Android operating system to block rival companies.
In 2019 the EU fined the firm €1.49bn (£1.28bn) for blocking advertising by rival online search engines. The same year, the French data regulator fined Google €50m (£44m) for breaching the EU’s data protection laws.
Chief of France's Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority), Isabelle de Silva, said: "The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it's the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies.”
Bruno Le Maire, French Finance Minister, said: "The practices put in place by Google to favour its own advertising technologies have affected press groups, whose business model is heavily dependent on ad revenues. These are serious practices and they have been rightly sanctioned."
A joint complaint from French news group Le Figaro, Belgian press group Rossel, and multinational media outfit News Corp, prompted the French authorities to launch the investigation in 2019.
The competition watchdog says that its ruling now allows for other publishers to claim damages from Google for being unfairly hampered by the US tech company.
Maria Gomri, Google France’s legal director, said: "While we believe we offer valuable services and compete on the merits, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products.”
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