US sues Google for monopolising the adtech sector

defended itself by saying the government ‘shouldn’t pick winners and losers in a competitive industry’.

The US government has accused Google of anti-competitive behaviour in the industry.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday (24 January), the US Department of Justice alleged that Google monopolises key digital advertising technologies – collectively referred to as the ‘ stack’ – that both advertisers and publishers rely on to buy and sell ads.

The complaint went on to claim that, over the past 15 years, Google has asserted its dominance in the adtech space by eliminating competition through acquisitions, forcing more publishers and advertisers to use its products and thwarting the ability to use competing products.

“Today’s 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.

“No matter the industry and no matter the company, the Justice Department will vigorously enforce our antitrust laws to protect consumers, safeguard competition, and ensure economic fairness and opportunity for all.”

Meanwhile, Google has defended itself by claiming that the lawsuit “ignores the enormous competition in the online advertising industry” and that the government “shouldn’t pick winners and losers in a competitive industry”.

“Today’s lawsuit from the Department of Justice attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology ,” Dan Taylor, vice-president of global ads at Google, wrote in a blogpost following the lawsuit.

“[The Department of Justice] 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.”

The latest complaint comes a year after a group of major publishers filed an antitrust complaint with the EU against Google relating to its adtech “stranglehold” over press publishers. The Commission had already opened a probe into Google’s advertising business in 2021.

The complaints are part of a long-running fight between publishers and Google over the company’s alleged restriction of competition in the adtech space, which is an important source of revenue for many news organisations and other media with a digital footprint.

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