Along with paying a $268 million fine, Google agreed to adjust it’s ad technology to provide more flexibility and transparency as well as improve the way its Ad Manager services works with competitive ad servers and sales platforms. “We have agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies,” said Maria Gomri, Legal Director of Google France in an announcement today.
Google’s platform favored itself over competition. The French Competition Authority (FCA) claimed that Google Ad Manager, the company’s publishing ad platform, provided AdX (where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time) with exclusive data to improve its own chances.
“Ad Manager provided AdX with strategic data such as the winning bidding prices, while AdX also enjoyed privileged access to requests made by advertisers via Google’s ad services… AdX, in turn, exchanged data more smoothly with Ad Manager than it did with other advertising management platforms, the watchdog added. Such platforms are crucial for publishers to manage and sell advertising space,” wrote Mathieu Rosemain for Reuters.
Google agrees to make auction data more accessible to rivals. The announcement includes two main initiatives: increasing access to data and more flexibility for ad partners.
“We will work to create a solution that ensures that all buyers that a publisher works with… can receive equal access to data related to outcomes from the Ad Manager auction,” said Gomri. On the flexibility front, Google will now allow partners to ” to set custom pricing rules for ads that are in sensitive categories and implementing product changes that improve interoperability between Ad Manager and third-party ad servers.”
Along with more access to data, Gomri said Google Ads “will not limit Ad Manager publishers from negotiating specific terms or pricing directly with other sell-side platforms (SSPs).”
Why we care. Google working with antitrust authorities is always a good thing when it comes to competition, but it also means potentially more options for publishers using ads to drive revenue and fund content.
“The practices put in place by Google to favor its own advertising technologies have affected press groups, whose business model is heavily dependent on ad revenues,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
This decision and Google’s response means it will be easier for publishers to use Google’s ad tech tools and learn from the data.