The Federal Trade Commission is in the early stages of opening an antitrust probe into how Google runs its online display advertising business, according to a report by Bloomberg News, citing sources who want to remain anonymous because the FTC has not announced the probe.
Google took the lead in the growing display ad market in 2012. Industry analysts at eMarketer.com predict that the search and technology company will book $3.11 billion in display ad revenues this year, topping rivals Facebook and Yahoo. Twitter is also expected to continue its strong growth in the field.
"FTC investigators are examining whether Google is using its position in U.S. display ads — a $17.7 billion industry that includes the sale of banner ads on websites — to push companies to use more of its other services," Bloomberg reports, "a practice that can be illegal under antitrust laws, the people said."
The news of a possible new inquiry into Google's business practices comes nearly six months after the FTC shut down its antitrust probe of the company's search service. That inquiry was closed after Google agreed to stop "scraping" other sites for user reviews and other content.