Google faces the wrath of European media companies

March 2, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

More than 30 European media companies have filed a €2.1 billion damages claim against Google over its ad tech practices. This is Google latest European lawsuit, but it is not the first, and might not be the last.

The plaintiffs, which include the German group Axel Springer, the Norwegian multinational Schibsted, and Prensa Ibérica and Grupo Godó from Spain, are demanding compensation from the Mountain View company, claiming that they have suffered losses due to Google's digital advertising practices.

"The media companies involved in the lawsuit have incurred substantial losses in recent years by operating in a less competitive marketplace, which is a direct result of Google's misconduct," reiterated Geradin Partners and Stek, the law firms representing the plaintiffs.

A collective claim against the Internet titan 

Damien Geradin, founding partner of Geradin Partners, said, "We are proud to represent the 34 publishers in bringing this claim. Enough time has been spent getting to the heart of Google's ad tech irregularities that it is now out in the open for all to see. It is time for Google to be held accountable for its abuses and compensate the victims, Europe's diverse and vital media sector."

"Many publishers have suffered harm due to Google's unlawful actions. It is important to take action not only to ensure that publishers' damages are fully compensated but also to ensure that Google's anti-competitive conduct is prevented in the future. We are glad that 34 major media companies have decided to take action. Others should do the same," said Jan Bart van de Hel, a partner at Stek in Amsterdam.

Google has already been sentenced by ‘abuse of dominant position’ 

In June 2021, the French competition authority found that Google's conduct constituted an ‘abuse of dominant position’. Following this, the European Commission (EC) opened proceedings against Google and issued a statement of objections in June 2023. Now, this European media group is suing Google for damages suffered as a result of the company's abuses. The case was filed in the Amsterdam District Court on February 28, 2024.

Google answers, ‘it is speculative’ 

The class action lawsuit against Google comes at a time when the company's advertising business is facing an existential threat from the transition from conventional search engines to generative AI chatbots.

Google has already spoken out in opposition to the lawsuit, calling it "speculative and opportunistic": "Google works constructively with publishers across Europe. Our advertising tools adapt and evolve in collaboration with these publishers".

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