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Google could face fresh antitrust inspection over its display ad dominance

The bigger Google gets, the more often regulators are getting on its case.

The next probe into the company could from the Federal Trade Commission which is trying to figure out whether Google is leveraging its ad market dominance to push customers to its other services, as Bloomberg reports.

The criticism is a common one lobbed at Google by its critics, the most vocal of which is search engine rival Microsoft. Like much of the European Union, Microsoft isn’t crazy about Google’s ability to own, from top to bottom, peoples’ interactions with the web. While the FTC recently cleared Google of  similar charges, its counterparts in Europe are still on Google’s case.

display-ad-market-shareUnlike Google’s search dominance, however, Google’s ad market share is far from locked down. The company controls roughly 18 percent of  digital display ad revenue — a slight bump over Facebook’s 15 percent, according to the latest numbers from eMarketer. That’s a far cry from a monopoly.

Still, at issue here isn’t Google’s dominance but rather the top-down integration of its many services. It’s one thing to control a market, but its something else to pursue anti-competitive tactics mean to make it impossible for any other company to challenge that control.  The FTC is trying to figure out whether that’s what Google is doing.

One thing to keep in mind is that the probe is still in its preliminary stages and might not officially happen. But don’t expect Google’s competitors to stop lobbying for regulator intervention anytime soon.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat


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