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Justice Department Ramps Up Google Probe

A recent report claims that the DOJ is ramping up its investigation into Silicon Valley tech giant Google, focusing heavily on the company’s ad tools.

A report from the Wall Street Journal alleges that the DOJ is ramping up its probe of tech giant Google, reaching out to more than a dozen companies as part of the antitrust probe into the firm. The Justice Department has reportedly contacted publishers, advertising technology firms, and advertising agencies as it looks deeper into Google’s online ad tools as a focus of the investigation.

The Justice Department has reportedly been posing detailed questions to Google’s rivals as well as Google executives about how the firm’s third-party advertising service works with publishers and advertisers. Google’s advertising business was largely launched by the company’s purchase of ad-tech firm DoubleClick in 2008. Many recent questions about the company’s ad tech relate to moves Google has reportedly made to consolidate its power in the advertising industry.

The first move being investigated is Google’s integration of its ad server which is the leading tool for websites to place ad space for sale on their site. The second move was Google’s decision to force advertisers to use its own tools to buy ad space on the video-sharing platform YouTube. Michael Nevins, chief marketing officer of Smart AdServer, which makes a rival ad technology to Google’s, commented: “They are zooming in on the right topics, and that’s a good thing.”

The DOJ’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, recused himself last week from the investigation into google reportedly due to the emphasis on ad tech. In 2007, Delrahim advised Google in its efforts to gain approval from the Federal Trade Commission to buy DoubleClick. Justice Department officials are also reportedly examining other aspects of Google’s business, conducting interviews with companies such as Yelp, Duck Duck Go, and Oracle, all of which work in industries that Google is quite dominant in.

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