On December 9, the volume of visible advertising on the Internet was significantly reduced for more than three hours. The reason for this was a failure of Google’s Ad Manager. The cause of the failure is as yet unknown; Google’s market power, on the other hand, has become very strikingly visible.
Failure fixed in the meantime
Ad delivery via the Ad Manager was not possible for just over three hours. As a result, ad slots on numerous websites remained unoccupied. The appearance of the websites changed accordingly. A number of very well-known sites were also affected, such as those of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Google confirmed shortly afterwards that there had been a technical malfunction. A little more than three hours after the start of the malfunction, it was resolved, which Google announced on Twitter. No details have yet been provided on the cause of the disruption.
Failed test in the run-up
In the run-up to the current malfunction, there had already been a failed test at Google, which also led to malfunctions of the Ad Manager. In the course of this, yellow triangles were delivered instead of traditional ads, which carried no advertising message. In some cases, exorbitant sums were offered for these triangle ads, which brought individual publishers revenues of more than 100,000 US dollars in just 45 minutes. In retrospect, it turned out that Google originally wanted to test a function in the Australian version of the Ad Manager, which was also accidentally released in the US version. Publishers get to keep the revenue from the failed test.
Google’s market power clearly evident
The current failure besides clearly shows Google’s market power in the field of online advertising. Almost all major platforms that are (also) ad-supported work with Google’s platform to mediate ads. This dominance and quasi-monopoly position is the subject of several competition proceedings against Google. For example, the Federal Cartel Office is investigating Google.