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Google And Meta Face Fresh Antitrust Probe Over ‘Jedi Blue’ Ad Deal

By Cristian Bustos. Originally published at ValueWalk.

NASDAQ:GOOGL nasdaq:goog

U.S. and U.K. regulators have launched parallel antitrust probes into Google Inc —Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)— and Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:FB) over ad deal “Jedi Blue.” The big tech giants could have disadvantaged online ad publishers and tech rivals.

Allegations Against Google And Meta

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement quoted by Reuters that “A competing technology to Google’s Open Bidding may have been targeted with the aim to weaken it and exclude it from the market for displaying ads on publisher websites and apps.”

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The “Jedi Blue” deal allowed Meta to participate in Google’s Open Bidding program, which rivals header bidding. The latter enables news providers and other publishers to simultaneously offer ad space to several ad networks and exchanges.

“We’re concerned that Google may have teamed up with Meta to put obstacles in the way of competitors who provide important online display advertising services to publishers,” Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, said.

He added, “If one company has a stranglehold over a certain area, it can make it hard for start-ups and smaller businesses to break into the market – and may ultimately reduce customer choice.”

Response

A Meta spokesperson was quoted as saying on CNBC, “Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and the similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms, have helped to increase competition for ad placements.”

“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers and publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all. We will cooperate with both inquiries,” the spokesperson added.

Both companies are currently under investigation by the EU over similar allegations, and Google was already ordered to pay $8.8 billion in antitrust fines in the last ten years.

In the U.S., Texas and other 15 states filed an antitrust complaint against the internet giant alleging that its deal with Facebook aimed at countering header bidding, which publishers wanted to use to make more money from online ads on their websites, as Reuters reports.

Google and Meta are part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.

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