Report: Google Could Soon Face New FTC Antitrust Probe Into Its Display Ads Business

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Bloomberg today reports that Google could face a new U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust probe into its display advertising business. As Bloomberg’s Brian Womack and Sara Forden note, the FCC is looking into whether Google used its strong position in this market to “illegally curb competition.” The investigators, the report also notes, want to see if Google used its display ads business to “push companies to use more of its other services.”

We reached out to Google for a statement about this new investigation but Google did not have a comment on the report.

As Bloomberg notes, the FCC investigation – assuming it will go forward – will likely focus on whether Google used its dominance in the display ad business to “squeeze out competitors in the display advertising market.”

Google’s ad revenue from display ads was about $2.26 billion in 2012 and, according to a report by eMarketer, could hit $3.11 billion this year. According to the same report, Google currently owns about 17.6 percent of the display ad market, followed by Facebook and Yahoo.

Google and the FTC are, of course, old acquaintances. The two have sparred pretty regularly over the last few years, and just this January, the FTC settled its latest antitrust probe with Google after a 20-month investigation. Google, at the time, agreed to make some voluntary changes, including how it handles its AdWords campaigns.

Google also still faces a similar investigation in Europe, where it recently proposed to settle the European Commission’s investigation into its business practices. A number of other countries, including Canada, are also currently looking into the search giant’s business practices.