Report: FTC Opening New Probe Into Google | Adweek Report: FTC Opening New Probe Into Google | Adweek
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FTC May Not Be Done With Google Yet

Investigation focuses on Google's display ad biz

The Federal Trade Commission may not be done with Google yet, as it opens a new investigation into whether the search giant abuses its market-leading position to curb competition in display advertising, according to a Bloomberg News report. However, the preliminary probe may not go anywhere, given it is in its early stages.

Google reported $2.26 billion in display ad revenue in the U.S. last year, a figure that is projected to hit $3.11 billion this year, according to eMarketer. Google's 15 percent share of the market bests Facebook (14.5 percent), Yahoo (9 percent), Microsoft (4.5 percent) and AOL (3.5 percent).

According to Bloomberg, the FTC is examining whether Google's DoubleClick ad network and its planning and buying tools force ad buyers to purchase ads in other Google services and avoid competing nets like Yahoo and Microsoft.

If the FTC finds anything, it will contradict what it found in 2007 when it cleared Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick. "Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition," the commission wrote, noting that the evidence failed to find DoubleClick had market power in third-party ad-serving markets and that it was unlikely Google could "manipulate" DoubleClick's third-party ad-serving products in a way that would competitively disadvantage Google's competitors.

The probe would come five months after the FTC concluded a two-year investigation into whether Google unfairly manipulated its search results. To the disappointment of Google's rivals, it escaped virtually unscathed after the FTC wrapped its investigation by refusing to take any action to regulate Google's search algorithm. In a settlement with the FTC, Google did agree to stop certain practices related to search. 

Neither FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan nor a Google rep had any comment on the report.

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