Google Grilled on Ad Business Dominance by US Senate Panel

Alphabet’s Google confronted a bipartisan buzzsaw of robust questions on its advert enterprise in a listening to on Tuesday, with a selected focus on whether or not it misused its dominance in internet marketing to drive earnings.

Senator Mike Lee, a Republican and chair of the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, pressed Google’s Don Harrison, who testified remotely, on the corporate’s dominance of the interlocking companies which join advertisers with newspapers, web sites and different companies trying to host them.

“As that business has grown, so too have complaints that Google – which both operates the ad selling and buying platforms, and sells its own inventory through those platforms -has conflicts of interest and has manipulated or rigged online ad technologies and auctions to favor its own interest,” Lee mentioned.

He and others pressed Harrison on advertiser complaints that Google was opaque about the place advert {dollars} went, particularly how a lot went to publishers and the way a lot to Google.

Harrison, who took over as head of Google’s company growth in 2012, argued that the advert tech ecosystem was crowded and aggressive, with Amazon and Facebook, AT&T, Comcast and others amongst Google’s highly effective rivals, and that the worth of putting an advert had fallen.

The tech big made a collection of purchases, together with DoubleClick and AdMob, to assist make it the dominant participant in internet marketing.

Lee’s concern was echoed by fellow Republicans like Senator Josh Hawley in addition to Democrats, equivalent to Senators Amy Klobuchar, the highest Democrat on the panel, and Richard Blumenthal.

The listening to was held as President Donald Trump’s Justice Department is predicted to file a lawsuit towards Google inside weeks, based on sources acquainted with the matter.

Blumenthal referred to as the duty of defending Google “thankless” due to the numerous roles it performs between purchaser and sellers in internet marketing.

“(It) seems unacceptable in a really free market and in a free enterprise system which is why I hope there will be antitrust enforcement directed against Google,” he mentioned.

Klobuchar, whose father was a journalist, expressed concern that newspapers didn’t obtain ample revenues from ads positioned on their web sites due to Google’s dominance.

“I literally don’t have personal grudges against these companies, like sometimes the president has expressed about various companies. I don’t,” she mentioned. “I just want our capitalist system to work.”

While conservative bias will not be lined by antitrust legislation, Senator Lee, backed by Hawley, questioned Harrison about Google’s menace to drop a conservative publication from its promoting and bar some conservative commentators from earning profits on Google’s YouTube.

Google’s Harrison mentioned the businesses concerned had violated insurance policies, equivalent to these towards putting promoting subsequent to racist or related content material.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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