The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google

January 27, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google for its alleged monopoly in the advertising sector, alleging that the technology giant has control of the advertising market in the online channel. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had been working on it since mid-2022, and now it finally sees the light of day. In addition, the courts of eight states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia, have joined this complaint.

However, this lawsuit is unrelated to the one it made in 2020 to accuse the company of a monopoly in the online search market. Or the lawsuits made by the European Union for abuse of dominant position or data privacy.

Department of Justice: Google promotes a ‘corrupted market’ 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, mostly referenced a change in the pattern since Google acquired DoubleClick in 2008.

 "Competition in the ad tech space is broken for reasons that have been neither accidental nor inevitable. An industry behemoth, Google, has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of a wide range of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers to facilitate digital advertising," the filing reads. 

So they accuse him mainly of having designed an advertising market in which the significant beneficiary is him.

The DOJ describes the company's behavior: "Google's plan has been simple, but effective: (1) neutralize or eliminate actual or potential ad tech competitors through a series of acquisitions, and (2) exert its dominance in the digital advertising markets to force more publishers and advertisers to use its products while disrupting their ability to use competitors' products effectively."

 "Each time a threat has arisen, Google has used its market power in one or more of these ad tech tools to nullify it. The result: Google's plan for lasting industry-wide dominance has succeeded."

The DOJ document is 153 pages where all the information related to Google's advertising marketplace is collected. Behind this complaint is Jonathan Kanter, the figure in charge of leading the DOJ's antitrust division chosen by Biden and who is known for his statements against technology giants.

Google answers: The DOJ wants to rewrite history 

Google has been quick to respond to the DOJ in a blog post. It begins by explaining that the acquisitions it has made have always been approved:

 "The DOJ is demanding that we unwind two acquisitions that were reviewed by U.S. regulators 12 years ago (AdMeld) and 15 years ago (DoubleClick). By seeking to reverse these two acquisitions, the DOJ is attempting to rewrite history at the expense of publishers, advertisers, and Internet users. Both acquisitions allowed us to invest heavily in the development of new and innovative advertising technologies. These deals were checked by regulators, including the Department of Justice, and allowed to proceed. Since then, competition in this sector has only increased."

He then begins to list some situations that have occurred in the advertising industry where it is clear that Google is not above other companies. For example, they talk about "Amazon's advertising business is now growing faster than Google's and Meta's advertising businesses."

All in all, Google's defense is clear: the industry of online advertising is becoming far more competitive each year, and the practices that are slowly turning into industry standards, are not decided by Google alone but by a lot of other power players inside the global online advertising sector. 

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