The US Department of Justice is suing Google for allegedly exercising monopoly control over the digital advertising market, part of the latest legal campaign against the group as Washington seeks to crack down on Big Tech dominance.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday by the DoJ and a group of US states in federal court in Virginia accuses Google of using “anti-competitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or significantly lessen any threat to its dominance over technology.” digital advertising”.
He said “industry behemoth” Google had hurt competition in the ad tech space “by engaging in a systematic campaign to take control of the wide array of high-tech tools used by ad tech users.” publishers, advertisers and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising”.
The highly anticipated lawsuit comes as Joe Biden’s administration has focused on stamping out anti-competitive behavior in the US economy. The US president signed a sweeping order to limit the power of big business and appointed progressive officials to high-level antitrust posts, including Jonathan Kanter, the head of the DoJ’s antitrust unit.
Authorities on Tuesday accused Google of having “widespread conflicts of interest” because it controls many aspects of the digital advertising market, including the technology used by website publishers to sell advertising space and the largest exchange where ads are sold.
Google is accused of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, one of the nation’s corporate antitrust laws. The US government is seeking damages on behalf of US agencies, including the military, and is also demanding that the company be forced to divest its Google Ad Manager suite.
If successful, the lawsuit could dramatically change the contours of the digital advertising market. The DoJ argues that Google has had its grip on the industry for 15 years, adding to its power by buying out competitors and crushing rivals, forcing publishers to adopt its tools and manipulating ad auctions to its own advantage.
The complaint alleged that Google’s 2008 acquisitions of DoubleClick, a publisher ad server, and AdX, a fledgling ad exchange, allowed the technology group to create an ecosystem that locked in publishers. “In effect, Google has positioned itself to operate simultaneously as a buyer, seller and auctioneer of digital display advertising,” he said.
The court filing quoted a Google product manager as writing, “Our goal should be all or nothing: Use AdX as your [exchange] or do not have access to our [advertising] request.”
US prosecutors estimated that Google took more than 30% of all digital advertising dollars that passed through its products.
“Monopolies threaten the free and fair markets on which our economy is based. They stifle innovation, hurt producers and workers, and increase costs for consumers,” said Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General.
Google said in a statement that the lawsuit “attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive ad tech industry.”
“The DoJ is doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, increase advertising costs and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”
This is the first lawsuit against Google brought by the DoJ’s antitrust unit under Kanter, a Big Tech critic who has prioritized cracking down on anticompetitive practices in the industry.
But Google faces further legal challenges from the government under the DoJ’s previous leadership. In 2020, the department sued the group for allegedly suppressing internet search competition, seen as the government’s most high-profile antitrust action since its lawsuit against Microsoft in the 1990s.
Kanter called the move “really. . . historical moment”. He pointed to the ripple effects of Google’s alleged monopoly behavior on the entire US economy, including newspapers, which have always relied on advertising revenue.
It is essential “to protect competition in the digital marketplace of ideas, where powerful network effects make monopoly power even more enduring and harmful, and abuses by companies with monopoly power like Google even more pernicious,” a- he added.
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy
. USA sue Google for dominance advertising digital