By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) –Google parent Alphabet has offered to let rival ad intermediaries place ads on YouTube to address a crucial part of an EU antitrust investigation that could pave the way for it to settle the case without a fine, people familiar with the matter said.
The European Commission opened a probe last year to examine whether the world’s largest provider of search and video was giving itself an unfair advantage in digital advertising by restricting rivals’ and advertisers’ access to user data.
The EU competition watchdog singled out Google’s requirement that advertisers use its Ad Manager to display ads on YouTube and potential restrictions on the way in which rivals serve ads on YouTube.
It is also looking into Google’s requirement that advertisers use its services Display & Video 360 and Google Ads to buy YouTube ads. YouTube posted $6.9 billion in sales in the first quarter of this year.
The Commission and Google, which has previously said publishers and advertisers often use multiple technologies and platforms to sell ads, declined to comment.
Google has been discussing remedies with the Commission since last year in a bid to avert a fine that could reach 10% of its global turnover, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last year.
The company will however need to offer more than just the YouTube remedy to address other concerns in order to get a deal, the people said, adding that talks seemed to be on the right track.
The British competition agency CMA is also investigating Google’s ad practices.
Last year, Google generated $147 billion in revenue from online ads, more than any other company in the world, with ads including search, YouTube and Gmail accounting for the bulk of its overall sales and profit.
The company’s display or network business, in which other media companies use Google technology to sell ads on their website and apps, accounted for about 16% of its revenue.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Evans)