UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). launched a new investigation into Google’s advertising business for fear that the company is unfairly freezing competitors. This is the second open investigation that the CMA is conducting at Google since its announcement in March joint investigation with the EU about an alleged conspiracy between Google and the owner of Facebook Meta.

The new investigation will delve deep into the “advertising technology stack” – a collection of tools that make up the complex market of online advertising. The CMA notes that Google has “strong positions at various levels of advertising technology,” and examines three key elements where the U.S. company is the largest player. These include the market used by companies to advertise their advertising space; advertising exchanges themselves, which automate the sale of this inventory; and ad servers that store ads and select them for display.

In other words: all the major parts that make you work in online advertising.

The CMA wants to know if Google is using its dominance in each of these individual businesses to direct customers to its own services and make it harder to compete with competitors. Potential obscure practices include “whether Google has limited the compatibility of its advertising exchange with third-party publisher advertising servers and / or linked these services to a contract that makes it more difficult to compete with competing advertising servers,” the CMA said.

As Watchdog CEO Andrea Cascelli said in a press release: “Weakening competition in this area could reduce advertising revenue for publishers, who may be forced to compromise the quality of their content to cut costs or place their content behind paid screens. It can also lead to higher costs for advertisers, which result in higher prices for advertised goods and services. ”

Over the past few years, Google has suffered various fines for similar antitrust practices in other parts of its business. These include 2.4 billion euros fine from the EU in 2017, because in the search results the company preferred its trading services over competitors; and a The EU will be fined 1.5 billion euros in 2019 for anti-competitive behavior in advertising similar to that currently being investigated by the UK. (Google lost the appeal for the firstand there is is currently appealing the second.)

We have contacted Google for comment and will update this story when we receive a response.

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