Under pressure Google starts to play nice with its smaller rivals

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Small rivals of Google say they are seeing signs of more benevolent behaviour from the internet advertising leader amid accusations by the US government that the company uses its dominance to thwart competition.

Among the dozens of software companies who rely on Google as an intermediary to advertising buyers and vendors, six told Reuters the organisation has become more collaborative on information privacy and other modifications together and business groups, helping these entities rather than ignoring requests since they’ve done in the past.

John Nardone, CEO of Flashtalking – which works with advertisers to personalize messages said Google recently agreed to start a pipeline to crucial data.

It had been an undertaking “that previously I might not have imagined they’d be open to,” said Nardone, who publicly criticized Google’s rigidity last year.

Two other companies also said Google this year enabled them to utilize its services in ways formerly limited, one involving utilizing external algorithms to analyse Google data and the other gaining earnings opportunities Google had booked for itself.

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An executive in another ad program company said Google in the previous year had not tried to poach any customers by providing early or discounted access to other products, tactics it had aggressively pursued to lure profitable accounts. Google also ceased with top executives to lure customers, the source added.

“The fangs are down right now,” the person said.

The softening stances come through yearlong antitrust investigations by the US Justice Department and states’ attorney generals led by Texas. Federal prosecutors are expected to sue Google as soon as next week on search and search advertising while their probe continues into ad software.

Despite the increased responsiveness, sources said Google’s small rivals continue to answer questions from investigators about the market shares of Google’s ad tools and the practices it uses to promote their adoption.

“They are both the dominant marketplace operator whilst also a player,” one executive said.

“It’s hard to become a referee and a player.”

Google rejected the assertion that its approach to competitors has changed due to the investigations, saying it always has sought to collaborate. Texas’ attorney general and the Justice Department declined to comment.

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The antitrust evaluation across Big Tech has prompted several concessions this year to smaller businesses’ longstanding gripes. For instance, Apple Inc started allowing browsers beside Safari as the default on iPhones, and Google on Monday vowed to better support alternatives to its Play app store on phones using its Android system.

To be sure, other complaints about market power have not been addressed, and Google and other online powerhouses continue to defend their dominance as beneficial to customers and consumers.

The state and federal investigations into Google followed complaints from advertising software companies and internet publishers that Google had cut them from prized data or selling opportunities. Google has said many of its actions have been needed to better safeguard users’ data amid global scrutiny on privacy.

Google is still pursuing additional protections, such as preventing monitoring of its Chrome browser users, that rivals fear will damage their ability to personalize ads.

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But instead than simply pursuing a “my way or the highway” alter, Google this time around has publicly consulted competitions and demonstrated via its remarks that its proposals for altering Chrome are amendable, two advertisement applications executives said.

“That’s quite reassuring,” said Colm Dolan, Chief Executive Officer of writer software vendor Publift who is a former Google salesperson.

Chetna Bindra, senior product director at Google, said the company was “encouraged by the industry participation in the process and the positive feedback on a number of proposals.”

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif. and Sheila Dang in Dallas. Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington. Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin.

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