U.S. Department of Justice sues Google for monopolizing digital advertising technologies

The U.S. Department of Justice, along with the Attorneys General from eight other states announced earlier this week that they had filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google for monopolizing multiple digital advertising technologies.

“As alleged in the complaint, over the past 15 years, Google has engaged in a course of anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct that consisted of neutralizing or eliminating ad tech competitors through acquisitions; 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,” the press release announcing the lawsuit said.

“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.”

The lawsuit was applauded by News Media Canada’s sister organization, the News/Media Alliance.

According to the suit, Google’s anticompetitive conduct has included:

  • Acquiring Competitors: Engaging in a pattern of acquisitions to obtain control over key digital advertising tools used by website publishers to sell advertising space;
  • Forcing Adoption of Google’s Tools: Locking in website publishers to its newly-acquired tools by restricting its unique, must-have advertiser demand to its ad exchange, and in turn, conditioning effective real-time access to its ad exchange on the use of its publisher ad server;
  • Distorting Auction Competition: Limiting real-time bidding on publisher inventory to its ad exchange, and impeding rival ad exchanges’ ability to compete on the same terms as Google’s ad exchange; and
  • Auction Manipulation: Manipulating auction mechanics across several of its products to insulate Google from competition, deprive rivals of scale, and halt the rise of rival technologies.

The other states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia. The full text of the complaint can be read here.