Is the EU looking at the wrong part of Google with its Android anti-trust investigation?
So this week the EU has done what it has threatened to do for a while – kicking off an investigation into the Android OS and its perceived market dominance, and how that is impacting consumers.
Many handset makers running the Android software install Google apps, such as Gmail and maps. In such cases, Google insists that a manufacturer also pre-installs Play, its app store, on to the handsets, arguing this is necessary to ensure the Android system continues to function smoothly.
As the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager signalled her intent to ramp up Europe’s regulatory onslaught against Google, she invoked the ghosts of past battles against another once-dominant US tech giant, Microsoft.
No one will win (again) except the lawyers and lobbyists.
The case is the latest legal front against Google, which is already facing antitrust charges related to search and has been targeted by privacy regulators and tax authorities across the continent. The new action could force Google to change its business model for Android, one of its core products, and pay billions of euros in fines.
I admire Google and we’ve seen some great products come out over the years. However, in my opinion, the EU has picked the wrong bit of Google to investigate.
Here is a quick 101 on adtech.
For anything in digital advertising to work it needs an ad server, a program that works out which ad to show to which consumer and when. Most websites serving ads use a Google product known as DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP). So when an advertiser wants to run an advertising campaign, their agency will normally use another ad server: This one holds the actual creatives to be shown, and is used for the advertiser to get independent stats on the campaign performance and delivery.
Most agencies use another Google product for this task: DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA). And the reason for this is there is only the tiniest of chances of there being a discrepancy between the numbers the publisher has, and the numbers the advertiser has.
So far so good.
But, underpinning all of this is another Google product called Adx. Adx is an advertising exchange where publishers place their available advertising spaces for companies like Blis to evaluate and potentially purchase on behalf of their clients.
So, DFP, DFA and Adx – all huge pillars underpinning digital advertising. Digital advertising doesn’t work without data – cookies, device IDs, demographic information etc. And all of this is, to a large degree, under the auspices of Google.
Please EU, leave Android alone and have a look at DFP/DFA and Adx.
Tags: Adx, Android, Anti-trust investigation, Blis, Dan WIlson, DoubleClick for Advertisers, EU, Google