PARIS (Reuters) -France’s antitrust watchdog on Thursday gave Facebook-owner Meta two months to change its access rules for ad verification partners, saying the company was potentially taking unfair advantage of a dominant market position in online advertising.

In a statement, the competition authority said Meta must publish new access criteria for partners seeking to use its analytical tools to assess whether online ad campaigns have been actually seen by people and are not displayed in a way that could harm the reputation of the brand.

It said the new criteria must be transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate.

“We are reviewing the interim decision and considering all our options,” a Meta spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Ad verification companies offer services including measuring how many views online ads receive, detecting fraudulent online traffic, and ensuring client ads do not appear on websites harming their brand, such as pornographic sites.

The French body said Meta’s invite-only approach allowed access to its data to only the biggest operators and might be considered discriminatory in the fields of the firm’s “viewability” and “brand safety” offerings.

The case was brought by Adloox, a small, independent French ad verification company, which sought unsuccessfully to be granted access to Meta’s data for these services from 2016 to 2022.

Adloox complained to the competition authority last year, and the authority found the barrier to entry created by Meta constituted an “immediate and grave” harm to Adloox specifically, as well as to the independent ad verification sector as a whole. 

(Reporting by America Hernandez, Writing by Tassilo Hummel, Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Mark Potter)

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