In its third largest European Union antitrust penalty in the last two years, Google was fined 1.49 billion euros or $1.7 billion USD. This penalty, in particular, involves Google using its power to control the flow and pricing of search adverts from 2006 to 2016. This also marks 10 years of regulatory battles fought between Europe and Alphabet-owned Google. Specifically, the findings were that Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than AdSense. AdSense lets Google act as the middleman between advertisers and website owners. Google is appealing the fine.
These illegal practices in search advertisement brokering has led Google to pay 1.29% of its 2018 turnover. Google is preventing publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results. This, in turn, allowed Google to gain advert spaces on the pages that were more lucrative while also making sure they gave approval before any changes to rival adverts were made. The main issue is that as site owners and advertisers were given fewer options and forced to pay higher prices, the financial burden would be passed on to consumers.
At a news conference following the ruling Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner, said: “Today’s decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform.”.