EU opens investigation into a Google-Facebook deal on internet advertising

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The European Commission announced this Friday that it has opened an investigation into an agreement signed in 2018 by the giants Google and Meta (Facebook’s parent company), which would supposedly consolidate its dominant position in the field of online advertising.

The European Union’s executive arm said it was investigating the deal, called “Jedi Blue,” to find out if it was used to “limit competition in a highly concentrated market.”

“Jedi Blue” is already under scrutiny in the United States, where the two groups are accused of having entered into an illegal agreement to take advantage of market dominance in online advertising.

Similarly, the European Commission suspects that Facebook and Google have manipulated, to the detriment of their competitors, the ultra-sophisticated system that determines which ads are displayed on web pages based on the Internet user’s anonymous profile.

“If our investigation confirms this, it would mean that they are distorting competition in an already highly concentrated market, to the detriment of their rivals’ advertising technologies,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a note.

In practice, Google provides the technology that bridges the gap between advertisers and website publishers by auctioning advertising space online in real time.

For its part, Meta (Facebook) provides online advertising display services and participates in auctions of third-party advertising space, in particular through the use of Google technologies.

At the end of 2020, Google was the subject of three antitrust proceedings in the United States, in particular following its agreement with Facebook.

The “Jedi Blue” deal is also being investigated by the UK Competition Authority.

For its part, Brussels had already announced in June 2021 the opening of an investigation against Google for anti-competitive practices in online advertising display technologies.

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