Sweepstakes Today files antitrust class action against Google

Sweepstakes Today files antitrust class action against Google

Sweepstakes Today this month filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, Alphabet, and YouTube, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated - a class action. The lawsuit accuses Google of continued unlawful manipulation of free-market competition.

In October this year, DOJ and 11 US states hit Google with an antitrust lawsuit. This month, Ten states in the US moved an antitrust lawsuit against Google. In October, a House report called for antitrust law updates targeting Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. In September, Google was grilled in the US Senate over its market dominance. End of last year, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page left the leadership roles in Google and Alphabet.

Sweepstakes Today’s lawsuit says Google engaged in a series of inorganic strategic acquisitions, anti-competitive contracts, and anticompetitive tactics:

  • Strategic and inorganic acquisition of ad tech companies and online platforms to grow and maintain market power;
  • Exclusionary disablement and disparagement of competitors’ products and services to disadvantage, foreclose and punish its competitors;
  • Designing auction processes that cement its own market power and raise rivals’ costs;
  • Advantaging itself through arbitrage and cross-subsidization opportunities made possible because it operates at all levels of the advertising intermediation value chain;
  • Exercising its control over the ad tech stack to weaken competitive sources of advertising supply for publishers;
  • Leveraging its power in general search and search advertising, where it holds monopoly power, to coerce advertisers to use Google products to access the online advertising market;
  • Tying or bundling, including technological tying, of Google products and services;
  • Unilateral or surreptitious setting or altering technological standards by which products and services of competitors can be accessed and used;
  • Manipulative and technological blocking, exclusion, or downgrading of competitors’ products and services;
  • Preferential treatment of its own products and services, including exempting YouTube but not competitors from Google-imposed technology and operating standards, and prioritization of its own products and services through manipulation of its algorithms;
  • Obscuring and keeping secret key market information as to function, pricing and data so as to disadvantage competition and restrict competitive pricing;
  • Denial of interoperability and purposeful incompatibility to exclude entry by competitors or raise their costs and/or coerce them to use Google products and services;
  • Gathering and using market intelligence about competitors through the Google and YouTube search engines and Google products and services to disadvantage competitors and interfere with competitors’ businesses;
  • Engaging in predatory pricing and triangular predatory pricing by offering free services in some areas while extracting huge ad revenue margins elsewhere;
  • Manipulation and abuse of the patent process and attendant patents.

Specifically, Sweepstakes Today says Google harmed its business by:

  • Depress bids and payments to publishers for placing ads on their websites below what those publishers would receive in a competitive market;
  • By implementing technological changes that send users to content based on pages hosted by Google and away from competing publishers, and eroding competition for the supply of advertising by denying publishers access to valuable data about these users;

The Sweepstakes Today’s arguments are alike the antitrust lawsuit moved by ten states, this month, against Google. However, the states focused their action on the publisher ad servers, ad exchanges, ad networks, and demand-side platforms, where Google gets the ad dollars.

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