Competition Bureau expands its investigation into Google’s advertising practices

News release

February 29, 2024 – GATINEAU (Québec), Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau has obtained a court order to gather information and advance an ongoing investigation into Google’s online advertising practices in Canada.

The Bureau is investigating whether Google has engaged in certain practices that harm competition in the online display advertising industry in Canada. This industry is made up of various technology products that are used to display advertisements to users when they visit websites or use apps.

When the investigation began in 2020, the Bureau was largely focused on allegations that Google was leveraging its market power in the supply of video advertising into the market for advertiser buying tools.

The Bureau has now expanded the scope of its investigation to examine ways that Google may be:

  • leveraging its market power across display advertising technology services in a way that harms competition and
  • using predatory pricing in certain display advertising technology services.

The Bureau requires more information to determine whether Google’s advertising practices:

  • intend to harm competition;
  • affect the competitive process or success of competitors; or
  • result in higher prices, reduced choices and hindered innovation in the online display advertising services market in Canada.

The Bureau is looking to determine if Google’s practices raise concerns under the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition Act, including the abuse of dominance provision.

The order, granted by the Federal Court of Canada, requires Google to produce records and written information that are relevant to the Bureau’s investigation.

The investigation is ongoing and there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time.     

Quick facts

  • Google owns four of the largest online advertising technology services used in Canada: DoubleClick for Publishers, AdX, Display & Video 360 and Google Ads.

  • Online display advertising consists of ads shown to users when they visit websites or use applications. It includes a variety of ad formats including pictures and videos.

  • Advertisers and publishers use advertising technology services to support the selling and buying of online display ads.

  • In 2021, the Bureau obtained its first court order related to this investigation into Google’s online advertising business.

  • The Bureau also investigated Google in 2016 for alleged anti-competitive conduct relating to online search, search advertising and displaying advertising. At that time, the Bureau committed to closely follow developments with respect to Google’s conduct.

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The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that protects and promotes competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses. Competition drives lower prices and innovation while fueling economic growth.

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