Home US judge rules that Google will face certain antitrust claims

US judge rules that Google will face certain antitrust claims

Alphabet’s Google has been told by a United States District Judge that the company will have to face certain antitrust concerns in court.

The Judge for the Southern District of New York, Kevin Castel, would dismiss a number of cases put in front of him, as reports Reuters, but would uphold one key argument to continue.

Castel would address the cases he dismissed, stating that those advertising companies accusing Google of a monopoly “have not plausibly alleged antitrust standing in the markets for ad-buying tools used by large advertisers, but they plausibly allege antitrust standing as to injuries they purportedly suffered from anti-competitive practices in the ad-exchange market and the market for small advertisers’ buying tools.”

Google vs. news industry advertiser

The Judge would allow the case of Gannett Co., the largest news media publisher in the United States and the owner of USA Today, to continue.

Castel presided over a case updated in August last year, Gannett Co., Inc. v. Google LLC et al. This case informs Castel’s green light for Gannett to argue that Google fraudulently concealed the anticompetitive effects of some technology, but the news industry will have to prove this.

The news empire would say in the court filing that “online digital advertising is a $200 billion business — a nine-fold increase since 2009. Yet, despite the opportunity for publishers to produce more news content and earn more revenue, news publications’ advertising revenue has declined by nearly 70% over the same timeframe.”

Gannett would continue that publishers do not “see the growing ad spending because Google and its parent Alphabet unlawfully have acquired and maintain monopolies for the advertising technology (“ad tech”) tools that publishers and advertisers use to buy and sell online ad space.”

What are these tools?

Publisher ad servers are used as inventory management systems for a publisher to see their online display ad inventory available on desktops, mobile web, and mobile applications.

Gannett argues that a publisher’s ad server is at the mercy of two things linked to Google’s advertising exchange. The search giant operates an “ad exchange (AdX) (linked) to its publisher ad server (DFP). Today, Google permits publishers to clear transactions for impressions through AdX only if they also use DFP,” according to the news powerhouse.

Both the AdX and the DFP were rebranded under the banner of Google Ad Manager. This online toolkit allows websites to offer advertising space for sale and operates as an exchange that automatically matches advertisers with content publishers. Gannet Co. alleges that this is “the dominant exchange and dominant buy-side software; Google is the most powerful buyer of that inventory.”

“The mechanics of Google’s conduct have evolved over time, but the result has remained the same: Google manipulates the process of real-time bidding to exclude rival exchanges, underpay for publisher inventory, and ultimately reduce the quality and quantity of online news,” the case filing would read.

Google has been at the front of monopolizing issues before

The search giant has been at the center of several high profile cases against them reportedly monopolizing the online advertising world. The U.S. Justice Department sued Google in January 2023 for having a stranglehold on digital advertising technologies “that website publishers depend on to sell ads and that advertisers rely on to buy ads and reach potential customers.”

So there is already a case ongoing that Castel has presided over and he has allowed the argument to continue. For the news agency to be successful in court, they must prove that Google is responsible for any wrongdoing in how it operates this ad exchange and if any of these processes harbour any unlawfully hidden processes.

Image credit: Photo by Cottonbros; Pexels

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Brian-Damien Morgan
Features Writer

Brian-Damien Morgan is an award-winning journalist and features writer. He was lucky enough to work in the print sector for many UK newspapers before embarking on a successful career as a digital broadcaster and specialist. His work has spanned the public and private media sectors of the United Kingdom for almost two decades. Since 2007, Brian has continued to add to a long list of publications and institutions, most notably as Editor of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning multiple awards for his writing and digital broadcasting efforts. Brian would then go on to be integral to the Legacy 2014,…

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