Department Of Justice And State Attorneys General Sue Google For Alleged Monopolization Of Digital Advertising Technologies
02/28/2023On January 24, 2023, the Department of Justice, along with the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia, filed a civil antitrust action against Google in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Plaintiffs allege that Google violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing several digital-advertising products. These products are various software programs and exchanges used by advertisers to create ads and place them on websites, including as search results on Google. When someone uses Google’s search engine, they are not only inundated with popular search-engine results but with relevant advertisements. In addition to search-engine advertisements, Google’s tools are used by third-party websites to promote digital advertising. Plaintiffs contend that website publishers rely on Google’s digital-advertising products to sell advertisements and that advertisers depend on them to purchase advertisements.
Plaintiffs allege that Google has secured its dominant market position in the digital advertising space by eliminating or diminishing any potential competitive threat. More specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Google has, over the last 15 years, (1) eliminated competition by acquiring competitors and thus gaining control over key digital-advertising tools; (2) utilized its dominance in the digital advertising space to force nearly every major website publisher to adopt Google’s advertising tools; (3) bought up publisher inventory and hindered rival advertisement exchanges’ ability to compete with Google; and (4) manipulated auction mechanics to shield Google from competition. Plaintiffs contend that Google’s conduct impacts three alleged antitrust markets within the U.S.—publisher advertising services, advertising exchanges, and advertiser networks.
Google is already facing similar monopolization claims in the Southern District of New York in In re Google Digital Advertising Antitrust Litigation, No. 5:20-cv-03556 where, in August 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred nineteen then-pending state and private actions. On this basis, on February 17, Google moved the Court to transfer the Virginia action to the Southern District of New York.