A coalition of 17 states is taking on Google.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the Attorneys General of Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia joined California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia in the antitrust lawsuit against Google.
These states argue that the advertising practices employed by Google have created an uneven playing field.
This article covers the reasons behind this unprecedented antitrust lawsuit and the potential impact on the digital marketing landscape.
What Is The DOJ Investigating?
The antitrust lawsuit, filed in January, alleged that Google violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prevents companies from participating in practices that harm competition.
In the case, the DOJ and 17 state Attorneys General accused Google of anti-competitive practices with the intent of forcing publishers and advertisers to use Google’s ad stack tech.
Why Is The DOJ’s Lawsuit Against Google Expanding To Additional States?
Several Attorneys General stated why they joined the DOJ lawsuit against Google in a series of press releases.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced, “The power that Google wields in the digital advertising space has had the effect of either pushing smaller, less ubiquitous companies out of the market or making them beholden to Google ads to market their clients’ products.”
“Healthy competition improves quality, reduces costs, and spurs innovation,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
Washington Attorney General designated, “Ending Google’s illegal monopolization of online display advertising is a bipartisan issue.”
“Google has created an unlawful environment in the digital world that has caused harm to online publishers and advertisers by weakening a free and open internet,” attested Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
“When website publishers get less ad revenue because of Google’s monopolies, they have to either lower the quality of their website, or pass on costs to consumers,” declared New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser explained, “Because Google controls many of the tools in digital advertising and takes higher fees on transactions than would-be rivals, website publishers make less on advertising revenue, advertisers are forced to pay more for ad placement, and overall consumers are harmed by higher prices and less innovation.”
“Google’s anti-competitive practices and obsessive need for control of ad tech markets have not only controlled pricing but has stifled creativity in a space where innovation is crucial,” asserted California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin alleged, “Big tech companies like Google have grown larger by stomping out competition in their industry to build monopolies over everything from searches to advertising.”
“Google single-handedly controls what consumers see – and, more significantly – what they do not see. They also control what advertisers can say and at what price,” believed Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.
We’ve reached out to additional Attorney General offices for comment.
How Could The Antitrust Lawsuit Affect Advertisers And Publishers?
Dan Taylor, Vice President of Global Ads, responded in a January blog post that the lawsuit was unfounded and aimed at re-examining Google’s acquisitions of AdMeld in 2011 and DoubleClick in 2007.
Taylor claimed the “DOJ’s lawsuit would reverse years of innovation, harming the broader advertising sector.”
Ultimately, it could harm publishers that generate revenue from publishing content and advertisers that depend on innovative technology to reach customers.
If the DOJ wins, it could lead to more competition, cheaper ad costs, and more money for publishers.
However, there could be negative outcomes, like smaller companies getting squeezed out and less choice for everyone involved.
Either way, the outcome of this case will be a big deal for those in online publishing and advertising.
Featured image: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock