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France gives Google $166 M antitrust fine for opaque and inconsistent ad rules.

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Upon discovering that the technology giant had exploited his dominating position on the search advertising market, French antitrust watchdog slapped Google with a € 150 million (~$166 M) fine.

The competition authorities today announced that, after a thorough review of the online ad market, Google will be penalized by what it terms “opaque and hard to understand” restrictions on the activity of its ad platform, Google Ads.

Google has been directed by the watchdog to explain how Google Ads and its account suspending process are controlled for service. The technology giant will also need to take measures to prevent, identify and fix Google Ads abuses.

A Google spokesman told TechCrunch the company will appeal the decision.

The decision— made in the aftermath of a UK market survey study asking whether Google should be split up— includes search ads, which appear if the search engine users of Google look up something, and ads are distributed in combination with organic search results.

More precisely, it applies to Google’s Ads network regulations, under which marketers can broadcast ads — guidelines that the watchdog has found ambiguous and contradictory.

Nevertheless, this point is expected and revealed in the press release of the watchdog, arguing that while it is “perfectly legitimate” for the purpose of consumer protection Google is not justified in its treatment of advertisers in “differentiated or unintended circumstances.”

Google can not deny an advertiser’s account on account because, while approving the references and accompanying on its advertising platform sites selling similar services, it would provide services that it finds contrary to the interests of the user.’

Google was instructed that in addition to being fined they must do the following

  1. Google conduct compulsory annual training for Google Ads Support Staff to explain its policies and develop a system of warning calls to help advertisers escape account suspensions.
  2. This shall, also, provide the watch-dog with an annual report showing how many lawsuits French Internet users have lodged against it; the number of sites and accounts suspended; the existence of the Rules infringed and the suspension terms.
  3. Google shall also apply to the Watchdog a report in two months ‘ time from today’s decision outlining the steps and procedures to be taken to comply with orders.