DOJ sues Google for anticompetitive conduct over the past 15 years

The US Justice Department today filed a new civil antitrust suit against Google for monopolizing multiple digital advertising technology products.

Google's Ad Ecosystem
Google's Ad Ecosystem

The US Justice Department, along with the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia, today filed a civil antitrust suit against Google for monopolizing multiple digital advertising technology products in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.

DOJ says that as a result of its illegal monopoly, and by its own estimates, Google pockets on average more than 30% of the advertising dollars that flow through its digital advertising technology products; and for some transactions and for certain publishers and advertisers, it takes far more.

The case 1:23-cv-00108 was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. DOJ states that, over the past 15 years, Google has engaged in a course of anticompetitive 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. 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 DOJ, Google now controls the digital tool that nearly every major website publisher uses to sell ads on their websites (publisher ad server); it controls the dominant advertiser tool that helps millions of large and small advertisers buy ad inventory (advertiser ad network); and it controls the largest advertising exchange (ad exchange), a technology that runs real-time auctions to match buyers and sellers of online advertising.

DOJ is asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to redress Google’s anticompetitive conduct, seeking both equitable relief on behalf of the American public as well as treble damages for losses sustained by federal government agencies that overpaid for web display advertising.

Google responded that the Department of Justice is attempting to "pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector", and it "largely duplicates an unfounded lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General, much of which was recently dismissed by a federal court."

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