An EU competition law analysis of online display advertising in the programmatic age

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Series Details Volume 15, Number 1, Pages 55-96
Publication Date January 2019
ISSN 1744-1056
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Online display advertising represents a large source of revenues for online publishers. Because of its vital importance for publishers and advertisers, competition in the advertising ecosystem is desirable. Yet, in the “programmatic” era, the sector is characterized by a high degree of opacity and some of its segments seem to be dominated by Google, with concerns being expressed that it may engage in anti-competitive strategies.

Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to explore the display advertising ecosystem and discuss relevant competition law issues. It first discusses market definitions and shows that Google may be dominant on several ad tech markets and then describes how programmatic advertising functions in practice. Finally, the paper identifies several practices which may amount to abuse of a dominant position in breach of Article 102 TFEU.

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