Google’s adtech targeted by publisher antitrust complaint in EU

Google’s dominance of the online ad market has been targeted by another antitrust complaint filed in the European Union by a coalition of publishers.

This time it’s the European Publishers Council (EPC) — whose members include the CEOs of News UK, Condé Nast, New York Times, Axel Springer and The Guardian, among others — arguing that, beginning with its 2008 acquisition of adtech firm DoubleClick, Google has deployed “a barrage of unlawful tactics to foreclose competition in ad tech” which they assert has allowed Google to gain a “stranglehold” over press publishers and all others in the adtech ecosystem.

The EPC appears to be seeking to put pressure on the European Commission which, since last summer, has been probing Google’s adtech but which also — historically — waived through Google’s DoubleClick acquisition, paving the way for the search giant to become a powerhouse in online advertising.

Although the timing of this complaint also looks interesting. given the U.K. competition regulator just accepted a set of behavioral commitments from Google that will allow it to continue to develop a stack of non-tracking-based ad targeting technologies which it intends to replace cookie-based tracking. (Not to mention that, earlier this month, a key component of the current privacy-hostile adtech regime of tracking and profiling web users to target them with ads was found in breach of EU privacy rules, and given a six-month deadline to reform.)

It’s also amusing to note that the EPC seems to have annoyed a bunch of reporters by moving its own embargo forward as the CMA’s announcement accepting Google’s Privacy Sandbox commitments hit. Hmmm!

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