On March 11, the European Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched parallel probes into an agreement between Meta and Google regarding online advertising services. The 2018 agreement, codenamed “Jedi Blue,” provided for the participation of Meta’s Audience Network in Google’s Open Bidding program. According to a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against Google, Jedi Blue provided Facebook with preferential rates and other benefits in return for Facebook not building a competing system or using header bidding. Header bidding allows news publishers to offer their ad inventory to multiple buyers at the same time. The competition authorities are concerned that Jedi Blue may be a part of efforts to prevent other services from competing with Google, thereby harming competitors, consumers, and publishers. The CMA’s investigation also examines Google’s practices with regards to header bidding more widely to see whether it abused its dominant position to suppress competition. The two investigations are independent but are expected to cooperate closely. Read more about the CMA’s investigation here and the EU’s investigation here.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.