The Department of Justice has stepped up its antitrust investigation of Google, which is heavily focused on the company's use of online ad tools, particularly its ad server and ad exchange, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Federal investigators have spoken with executives at Google and its rivals, asking detailed questions about the company's third-party advertising business. The main focus is on two subjects. The first is how the company has integrated its ad server, a tool that allows websites to sell ad space, with its ad exchange, which acts as a digital marketplace for online ads. The second is the company's policy of requiring advertisers to use their tools to buy YouTube ad space.
Much of Google's digital advertising business was built after it acquired the advertising technology firm DoubleClick in 2008. Around that time, the Justice Department's antitrust chief Makan Delrahim advised Google on getting the Federal Trade Commission to sign off on the purchase. This led him to recuse himself from the investigation last week.
The Journal notes that the DOJ also is looking into Google over possible bias in its search engine and its management of its Android operating system for mobile phones, and has interviewed several companies that have struggled with their dominance, such as Duck Duck Go, Yelp, and Oracle. The Journal's publisher News Corp also was contacted by investigators, as were The New York Times, Nexstar Media Group, Condé Nast, and Gannett.
State attorneys general working on their own investigation of Google met with officials from the DOJ on Tuesday, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton telling the press, "it's nice to have the cooperation of the Department of Justice," according to Reuters.
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