French Regulator Fines Google $270M for Advertising Practices

Tech giant Google must pay a €220 million ($270 million) fine and make some changes to its online advertising business following an antitrust deal with French regulators.

France’s competition authority revealed that it had fined Google (GOOGL) “for abusing its dominant position” in the online advertising market, spoiling its rivals.

In the statement issued on Monday, the authority also accused the company of giving “preferential treatment” to its ad management and exchange platform for large publishers, Google Ad Manager. According to the watchdog, Google did that to favor its own online ad marketplace, AdX, where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time.

The penalty comes when the firm faces various lawsuits in the United States for anti-competitive behavior, which could lead to similar agreements with other officials.

“The decision sanctioning Google is particularly significant because it is the first decision in the world to examine the complex algorithmic bidding processes by which online display advertising operates,” France’s antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva said in the statement.

Google also agreed to make it easier for publishers in France to use its data and tools with other advertising technologies as part of the deal.

“We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products.”

De Silva said the fine and the agreements between Google and regulators “will restore a level playing field for all players, and the ability of publishers to make the most of their advertising space.”

France’s competition authority took action after News Corp (NWS), French news publishing group Le Figaro and Belgian press group Rossel filed complaints. Earlier this year, the tech giant said it would pay French news publishers for its content as part of a landmark deal under recent copyright laws.

Soon after, Google struck similar agreements with Seven West Media and News Corp in Australia.

The company currently faces several antitrust cases in the United States, including one initiated by the federal government that accuses Google of operating under an illegal monopolized scheme for online search and search advertising markets.