The Justice Department is scrutinizing Google’s digital advertising and search operations as authorities gear up a broad antitrust review of the market power of giant internet companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
Antitrust officials have been actively meeting over the past month with third-party companies that could have grievances against Google, including publishers and consumer-facing websites, said two people familiar with the matter. Advertisers and ad-tech companies have also met with the officials, and more meetings are on the calendar, one of the people said.
The focus on advertising and search operations signals where the department could be taking its inquiry, which is in its early stages and could drag on for months. The range of companies meeting with the antitrust officials goes beyond those that have previously voiced complaints, which include Oracle Corp., News Corp. and Yelp Inc., the person said.
Bloomberg reported in June that the Justice Department was preparing to investigate Google, but this is the first indication of the status and scope of the review.
The antitrust division, led by Makan Delrahim, is pouring resources into the inquiry, drawing in lawyers from other sections of the agency to study the issues, one of the people said. While the division is exploring the digital advertising and search markets in the review’s initial stages, it will continue to narrow down the ultimate focus, one of the people said.