Google to face fresh FTC investigation

Rivals accuse the internet company of abusing its dominant position in the online search market.

New Statesman
Photograph: Getty Images.

The US Federal Trade Commission is said to have launched an informal investigation to find whether the search engine giant Google is abusing  its market-leading position in display advertising business to improve revenues.

This inquiry comes only months after some of the company’s antitrust probes have been resolved across the world.

The US commission, however, is yet to approach Google about the issues it is examining. It is assumed that FTC may ask Google to provide detailed information of its display advertising business in the recent times and more particularly after the acquisition of online ad company DoubleClick in 2007.

The commission had warned during the acquisition of DoubleClick  that it would have a relook if it suspected the search engine was exploiting its leading position in online-advertising market.

Meanwhile, Google has not commented on the issue. Goggle’s rivals  have accused  that the internet company of abusing its power in the search market by pushing its client websites to use some of its products such as Ad Exchange along with its popular DoubleClick products, such as the ad managing system, through a system of ‘tying’, which hurt competition.

According to research firm eMarketer,   the US digital display ad spending will continue its double-digit growth  in 2013 , with  Google in the leading position. The company generated $2.26bn in net US digital display ad revenues in 2012 and this figure is expected to grow to $3.11 billion  in 2013.

Meanwhile, European authorities are concluding a probe into Google’s dominant position in the search market and in the initial phase of an antitrust investigation into its Android operating system.