On 26 May 2022, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) announced in a press release that it is investigating whether Google had broken the law by restricting competition in the digital advertising technology market. This is the CMA’s second investigation into Google’s practices in ad tech, previously the CMA started an investigation into Google and Meta’s “Jedi Blue” agreement. Both investigations concern Google’s advertising technology intermediation (“ad tech stack”): the complex set of services which facilitate the sale of online advertising space between sellers and buyers. Google has strong positions at various levels of the ad tech stack and charges fees to both sellers and buyers of online advertising space. The CMA examines key parts of the ad tech stack in which Google owns the largest service provider and assesses whether Google’s practices in these parts may distort competition.
Furthermore, there are concerns that Google illegally favours its own services, as Andrea Coscelli, CMA’s Chief Executive stated “We’re worried that Google may be using its position in ad tech to favour its own services to the detriment of its rivals, of its customers and ultimately of consumers.”