Just when Google thought their antitrust worries had washed away with a wave of other campaign-year flotsam, the Federal Trade Commission has fired up the bat signal and are summoning the proverbial “A Team.” Their focus, once again, seems to be on the Khal of Search, Google.
A new marketing czar is now at the helm of the FTC. Moreover, judging from early reports, it seems the commission is focusing on the logistics of Google’s ad exchange program, instead of organic SERP results, like last time. Could these two variables result in a bad outcome for Google this go round?
The Google Antitrust Legal War
Google is no stranger to the antitrust litigation ring. The first unfair competition arrow was shot from the SS FTC in 2007. Back then, the commission concerned themselves with the tech company’s acquisition of a large online advertising firm, DoubleClick. Agents reviewed the structure and practices of each entity to determine if a marriage of the two companies would end up creating an unfair mega-corp. In the end, officials decided Google could buy DoubleClick because the purchase was “unlikely to substantially lessen competition.” At that point, the antitrust investigations were suspended.
Things were quiet for several years. Then in 2012, the FTC started breathing down Google’s back again. This time, the commission examined whether or not Google was unfairly promoting their holdings in search results. The case was closely watched, and in the end, a deal was reached. Google essentially walked away with a slap on the wrist; but public reaction to the 2012 Google antitrust decision was mixed.
A New Google Antitrust Investigation for 2013?
Just when Google and legal watchers thought the Google antitrust wars were over, word hit the wires that the nation’s consumer watchdog was sniffing around the search giant’s territory once again. According to reports, representatives from the FTC have supposedly been talking to online marketing industry people about Google’s advertising program. Specifically, parties questioned said they were asked about:
- How Google provided and served ads on their websites;
- Google’s advertising bidding process;
- Whether or not Google was offering below market prices to advertisers who agreed not to use any other online ad network.
The rumblings have begun, but at the time of this writing, the Federal Trade Commission has yet to file the appropriate paperwork to move forward with yet another Google antitrust investigation.
What do you think? Should Google be censured for antitrust activity? Or, did the tech company just do a really good job at building a stronger, faster business model? Let us know on Twitter.