Justin Sullivan/ Getty ImagesThe FTC has launched an antitrust probe into whether Google's dominance of the display ad business on the web hurts competition, Bloomberg reports.
The assessment, which is preliminary and may not develop into a full investigation, is looking at whether Google is involved in illegal "tying," or "bundling" — the practice of requiring customers to buy linked products in more than one category in order to leverage competitive dominance in one category into an unfair advantage in another. Bloomberg reported:
The FTC is looking at whether Google is using its tools to force companies to bypass competing products and use other Google properties, including a marketplace for buying and selling Internet display ads, and features that help companies maximize revenue, the people said. The agency is also reviewing Google’s potential to use its dominance in search advertising to squeeze out competitors in the display advertising market, the
Google settled an antitrust probe into its search advertising business in January. That settlement required Google to tweak some of its practices, but it left the core search ad business alone. What dominance Google has in search ads was a natural outgrowth of the fact that Google's product is superior, the FTC concluded, and therefore not an illegal monopoly.
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