Google: More EU Pushback Coming?

January 21, 2019

I read “Google Is Expected to Get Hit With a Third Antitrust Penalty.” The point of contention is AdSense, the once helpful way for some online publishers to generate revenue. The AdWeek story provided zero context for the action nor did AdWeek explain why putting online ads on a Web page via AdSense was an alleged crime.

The original Bloomberg story stated:

Regulators were probing whether Google’s advertising contracts unfairly restricted rivals.

Bloomberg included one passage which I found interesting:

The EU said in 2016 that Google hindered competition for online ads with its AdSense for Search product which places advertising on websites, including retailers, telecommunications operators and newspapers. While its European market share is more than 80 percent, AdSense contributed less than 20 percent of Google’s total ad revenue in 2015, a percentage which has declined steadily since 2010.

Why did AdSense, possibly influenced by the Oingo technology, lose traction?

DarkCyber thinks that this is an interesting question.

Have Web site operators been affected as the AdSense program appears to have lost traction?

Perhaps  more information will be forthcoming. Questions include:

  • Did payout percentages of AdSense to Web participants decrease systematically?
  • What were those payout percentages?
  • Was the cost of the program a form a technical debt which contributed to the deplatforming of AdSense?
  • Was AdSense inefficiency a way to push publishers to buy ads?
  • What part did Google’s ad dispersion or inventory work down play in AdSense’s “decline”?

If another fine rolls in, Google will have won the trifecta for EU antitrust horse races it seems. One would hope that AdWeek would dig into these or similar questions.

Stephen E Arnold, January 21, 2019

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