DOJ and Attorneys General Say Google’s Tactics Have ‘Broken’ Ad Tech Competition

“Competition in the ad tech space is broken, for reasons that were neither accidental nor inevitable.” – DOJ complaint

GoogleThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Attorneys General of eight U.S. states on Tuesday announced they are suing Google for antitrust violations of the Sherman Act with respect to the tech company’s monopoly on digital advertising technology.

The Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia joined the suit.

In a 155-page complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, the DOJ and Attorneys General explained that Google “has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising.”

The complaint added that “competition in the ad tech space is broken, for reasons that were neither accidental nor inevitable,” calling Google an “industry behemoth.”

Among other relief, the complaint seeks damages pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 15a; the divestiture of, at minimum, the Google Ad Manager suite, including both Google’s publisher ad server (DoubleClick for Publishers) and Google’s ad exchange, AdX; and to “enjoin Google from continuing to engage in the anticompetitive practices described herein and from engaging in any other practices with the same purpose and effect as the challenged practices.”

The complaint also alleges that Google has caused the United States to incur damages, “as the United States and its various agencies and departments are buyers of open web display advertising.”

“The complaint filed today alleges a pervasive and systemic pattern of misconduct through which Google sought to consolidate market power and stave off free-market competition,” said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in the DOJ’s statement.

She added: “In pursuit of outsized profits, Google has caused great harm to online publishers and advertisers and American consumers. This lawsuit marks an important milestone in the Department’s efforts to hold big technology companies accountable for violations of the antitrust laws.”

In a statement to Variety commenting on the lawsuit, Google noted that a similar suit recently brought by the Texas Attorney General was largley dismissed by a federal court and claimed that a win for the DOJ would slow innovation and be detrimental to small businesses and publishers.

According to the DOJ’s press release, the complaint details Google’s total control of the “publisher ad server”, an ad tech tool that “nearly every major website publisher uses to sell ads on their websites,” in part by acquiring the market-leading publisher ad
server at the time, “Double Click for Publishers”; it controls the dominant advertiser ad network, which helps large and small advertisers buy ad inventory; and “it controls the largest advertising exchange (ad exchange), a technology that runs real-time auctions to match buyers and sellers of online advertising,” also via acquisition.

“Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Google to account for its longstanding monopolies in digital advertising technologies that content creators use to sell ads and advertisers use to buy ads on the open internet,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

“Our complaint sets forth detailed allegations explaining how Google engaged in 15 years of sustained conduct that had — and continues to have — the effect of driving out rivals, diminishing competition, inflating advertising costs, reducing revenues for news publishers and content creators, snuffing out innovation, and harming the exchange of information and ideas in the public sphere.”

Image Source: Deposit Photos
Image ID: 363259238
Author: Primakov 

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  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    January 25, 2023 11:10 am

    See anything wrong with this picture?:

    On the one hand our government (Congress, DOJ, States, et. al) repeatedly (and correctly) sue and fine FAANG members, et. al. millions and millions of dollars . . . year after year after year . . . for the laws, rules, and regulations they (knowingly) ignore and break . . . while at the very same time passing laws (Congress — the AIA, et. al.) and instituting rules, regulations, requirements, and procedures (Patent Office — PTAB Death Squad, et. al.) making it virtually impossible for American innovators to effectively compete against these Big Tech Goliaths.

    See anything wrong with this picture?

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