The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and eight states have sued Google over its alleged monopoly over digital advertising technology products.
Filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the complaint alleged that Google monopolises key digital advertising technologies, collectively referred to as the “ad tech stack”, that website publishers depend on to sell ads and that advertisers rely on to buy ads and reach potential customers.
Website publishers use ad tech tools to generate advertising revenue that supports the creation and maintenance of a vibrant open web, providing the public with unprecedented access to ideas, artistic expression, information, goods and services.
Through this lawsuit, filed late on Tuesday, the DOJ and state Attorneys General seek to restore competition in these important markets and obtain equitable and monetary relief on behalf of the US citizens.
“The complaint alleges that Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful conduct to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
As alleged in the complaint, over the past 15 years, Google has engaged in a anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct that consisted of “neutralising or eliminating ad tech competitors through acquisitions”, along with wielding its dominance across digital advertising markets to force more publishers and advertisers to use its products and thwarting the ability to use competing products.
“In doing so, Google cemented its dominance in tools relied on by website publishers and online advertisers, as well as the digital advertising exchange that runs ad auctions,” according to the DOJ.
Google responded in a blog post that the lawsuit “attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector”.
“DOJ is doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow,” said Dan Taylor, Vice President, Global Ads.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said that the landmark action against Google “underscores our commitment to fighting the abuse of market power”.
“We allege that Google has captured publishers’ revenue for its own profits and punished publishers who sought out alternatives. Those actions have weakened the free and open internet and increased advertising costs for businesses and for the United States government, including for our military,” Gupta added.
In 2020, the Justice Department filed a civil antitrust suit against Google for monopolising search and search advertising.
The Google search litigation is scheduled for trial in September 2023.