Google faces new federal antitrust probe: source

WASHINGTON Thu May 23, 2013 6:09pm EDT

The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York January 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are in the early stages of an antitrust probe into whether Google Inc, the top player in web display advertising, breaks antitrust law in how it handles some ad sales, a source told Reuters on Thursday.

The source said that it was unlikely that the Federal Trade Commission had sent out civil investigative demands in relation to the probe, which would be the sign of a formal and more serious investigation.

The new line of inquiry focuses on tools acquired when Google bought display ad company Doubleclick in 2007; other firms which specialize in helping web publishers sell ads to put on their websites are complaining to the FTC, the source said.

According to a second source familiar with the situation, Google has not been notified of any antitrust investigation so far. Google and the Federal Trade Commission declined comment on the matter.

The sources did not want to be named in order to protect their business relationships.

The FTC wrapped up its earlier investigation into Google just four months ago, concluding that the search giant had not manipulated its Web search results to hurt rivals.

Google was the number one player in the $15 billion U.S. display ad market in 2012, with 15.1 percent market share, compared to Facebook's 14.6 percent share, according to industry research firm eMarketer. Google is expected to widen its lead to 20.7 percent of the market in 2014.

Google is currently trying to convince European antitrust investigators to wrap up a separate antitrust probe, and has offered to change some search pages to give more space to rivals in order to satisfy their concerns.

In that case, Google is accused of hiding links to rival shopping, travel and other websites to protect its ad revenues. On April 11, it said it would offer consumers links to three rival sites in some searches and would label its products.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington, additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, editing by Ros Krasny and Phil Berlowitz)

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Comments (6)
Cybershocked wrote:
Google is the new “Evil Empire”! I’m sick of these bastages flooding me with ads no matter where I go. Ever notice when you’re on your gmail you start getting spam in your spam box? That’s because Google sends out info in cyberspace letting all know you’re, at this moment, on your gmail! I’m done with Google! I’m through with them! I’m moving all my email elsewhere and using Yahoo and Bing. End of story.

May 23, 2013 8:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EileenUghlik wrote:
Are you for real? Google is posting your email address on the internet? Spam costs them money, why would they do that? Judging by your complete lack of understanding on how it really works, Ill help you out.. You post an ad on the internet using your email address, Crawlers run by address collectors pick up all the addresses they find, sell the address list to spammers who send email to you.. Since you dont understand the emails they send you, you surely click the tagged links, they know the address works so they know to send more.. Please, fire up outlook, pay someone to set it up for you.. and dont forget to make sure “Work offline” is unchecked and you click send & receive after you send a message.. All of your problems will go away since microsoft is really really good at hosting online services. Spam is not googles fault, you have nobody to blame but yourself.. STOP CLICKING LINKS.. STOP SCANNING YOUR COMPUTER FOR VIRUSES USING TOOLS FROM SCARY POPUPS.. STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER.. YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED, TURN IT OFF, YOU ARE COMPUTING WRONG.. End of story

May 23, 2013 11:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dannysdailys wrote:
Yeah, I can hear it now, “We’re really sorry Google, but we had to file this, don’t worry, nothing will become of it, now give us the emails of more reporters.”

May 24, 2013 7:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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