Report: Microsoft, Google Allegedly Use Spam Ads to Chill Competition


Confidential data reviewed by POLITICO has revealed gatekeeper search engines are funneling low-value ads to smaller search partners.

The report alleges Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft Corp. are using the online advertising market to the detriment of smaller rivals. The action threatens to establish a new antitrust clash in Europe, according to the previously unseen data.

These two tech giants appear to be inundating smaller search engine partners with spam ads while keeping the most valuable adverts for themselves, the report found.

The report comes a week after the European Publishers Council (EPC) — an association that includes The New York Times, Germany’s Axel Springer and the U.K.’s Guardian — filed a complaint with the European Commission against Google, asking the regulator to restore conditions for effective competition in the AdTech value chain.

See also: Google’s Latest EU Antitrust Battle Goes to the Core of AdTech Business

The European Commission has been investigating Google’s advertising practices since last year, when it sent questionnaires to publishers and advertising companies asking them about the role of Google as middleman in the AdTech value chain.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice has been expediting its investigation of Google’s alleged antitrust practices.

Read more: Justice Department Said to Be Readying Google Antitrust Ad Tech Lawsuit

Last fall, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, said the European Parliament and European Council should approve legislation regulating Big Tech as soon as possible.

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The data, compiled by anonymous researchers working in the AdTech space, found that Google and Microsoft release “low-value and irrelevant ads” to their partners.

Google has captured nearly 90% of the search engine market, and there are estimates that it has up to 600 billion web pages indexed.