According to the Wall Street Journal, France’s antitrust regulator has imposed a 150 million euro fine ($166.2 million) for arbitrarily suspending ads. Google says that the ads in question where “deceptive.”
The French antitrust authority, who is claiming “the power of life or death” over companies, has characterized the suspensions as “brutal and unjustified” and “random and unpredictable.” The regulator wants Google to further clarify its ad-suspension rules and create something similar to a warning system for advertisers who are facing suspension, probably to afford them the ability to cure whatever problem has been identified.
But in this case, this approach may not work. IN the underlying facts giving rise to the fine, a company called Gibmedia has been blocked by Google from buying ads. Gibmedia offers micropayments to publishers. According to the WSJ, Gibmedia is described as “a publisher of weather-forcast websites.”
Google told the WSJ that the company ran ads for sites “that deceived people into paying for service.” (We’ve asked Google to separately comment.)
Google says that they were protecting consumers. The company says that the ads in question are “exploitative and abusive.” Assuming that this is true, the French government would end up being on the side of a company that was manipulating the public.
Google promised to appeal the fine in court.