The Department of Justice has escalated its probe into Google with a focus on the search giant’s ad tools. While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working on antitrust probes of Amazon and Facebook, the Department of Justice has honed in on Google (and is allegedly investigating Facebook and Apple, too). The FTC is concerned with suing companies involved in anti-competitive behavior, taking the perpetrators to court, or finding fair settlements with a steep financial implication. The Justice Department, however, will prosecute antitrust violations in the criminal court.
In line with its mandate, the Department of Justice’s antitrust enforcers have attempted contact with ad tech firms, advertising agencies and online publishers to discuss Google’s online ad tools. The questions posed focus on Google’s integration of its ad server and its insistence that advertisers use its own tools when buying advertising space on YouTube. These two strategic moves by Google generated some $15 billion in revenue in 2019. The probe into Google has become tricky to conclude as this investigation places agencies in a difficult position, as too many of them depend on Google’s tools to succeed.
The overarching concern is whether Google has the monopoly over the monetization of all forms of digital content and the degree to which Google dominates the online advertising space.
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