WA attorney general joins others in Google lawsuit
Apr 3, 2023, 4:23 PM
(AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is going after Google once more as he joins the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against the tech giant, claiming the company unlawfully monopolizes online display advertising.
This is the fourth time the attorney general has been part of an antitrust lawsuit against Google.
“An open marketplace encourages competition and creativity,” Ferguson said in a statement. “When Google muscles in and dominates the market, everyone loses — except Google.”
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Ferguson announced Monday he is joining the Justice Department and eight state attorneys general in the lawsuit aimed at breaking up Google’s monopolization of online display advertising.
The industry developed tools to automate the process between two key groups: Website publishers and advertisers. When a user on the internet opens a webpage with ad space to sell, the tools almost instantly match a website publisher with an advertiser looking to promote its products or services to an individual user.
The lawsuit claims Google’s market share for publisher ad servers soared from 60% in 2008 to 90% by 2015. Google keeps 30 cents of every dollar in advertising that passes through the marketplace it now controls.
The suit asserts that Google’s dominance of the online display advertising market has allowed it to funnel more business through its services, resulting in websites earning less and advertisers paying more.
The lawsuit outlines how companies buy and sell online ads in enormous volumes and in fractions of a second. Online advertisers and website publishers use highly sophisticated, automated tools to get their advertisements on the computer screens of the most likely prospective buyers.
The lawsuit asserts Google violated the Sherman Antitrust Act after a 2008 acquisition of an online advertising company named DoubleClick, a dominant company in online advertising — controlling 60% of the market share. Federal regulators allowed the purchase at the time because they believed enough alternatives existed that there would still be competition.
The lawsuit claims Google’s anticompetitive conduct in the online advertising marketplace has suppressed alternative technologies and hindered their adoption by publishers, advertisers, and rivals. It seeks a breakup of Google’s advertising platforms and injunctive terms to end Google’s dominance of online ad marketplaces.
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The lawsuit itself explains the core issue:
While Google told the world that its removal of traditional header bidding was based on page latency and a desire to improve user experience, its internal documents painted a different picture. Several Google employees shared their views that any concerns about user experience or latency were a smokescreen to mask Google’s real motivation: further propping up
its ad tech monopoly and profits.
The lawsuit asserts Google currently controls:
- The technology used by nearly every major website publisher to offer advertising space for sale;
- The leading tools used by advertisers to buy that advertising space; and
- The largest ad exchange that matches publishers with advertisers.