Google has been fined $1.69 billion after EU regulators claimed that the tech company abused its own search system to essentially force third-party sites to use the AdSense network over other rival online ad serving companies.

This is not the first time that Google has had issues with EU regulators, which in recent years has taken a particularly aggressive stance against many tech giants.

Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.

After being hit with yet another massive fine, Google has a bill with the European Union that now stands at a pretty staggering $10 billion. Last year we saw EU regulators fine Google $5 billion for antitrust issues with the Android operating system. They claimed that Google favored its own applications over rival offerings.

Anti-Trust History

Back in 2017, Google was also hit with a $3 billion fine for antitrust issues surrounding Google Shopping and its ad platform.

This latest fine relates specifically to Google’s AdSense platform, which allows websites to monetize by utilizing ads that bid for prominence on millions of websites globally.

Through AdSense for Search, Google provides these search adverts to owners of “publisher” websites. Google is an intermediary, like an advertising broker, between advertisers and website owners that want to profit from the space around their search results pages. Therefore, AdSense for Search works as an online search advertising intermediation platform.

The EU says that Google abused its dominant position in the online advertising space and search to prevent market competition. They do state that market dominance is not illegal under EU antitrust rules. However, dominant companies have a “special responsibility” not to abuse their powerful market position by restricting direct competition.

As for total market share of online display advertising, the European Union estimated that Google’s market share exceeded 85% of all web display ads from 2006 to 2016. The €1,49 billion ($1.69 billion) fine represents 1.29% of Google’s total turnover for 2018.

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Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: