DOJ Complaint Accuses Google of Having ‘Monopolistic Grip’ on Advertising Market

Google parent Alphabet plans to lay off 12,000 workers.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against Google that accuses the tech giant of using its scale to engage in anticompetitive actions in the digital advertising industry. The DOJ, along with eight states, is seeking to “unwind [Google’s] monopolistic grip on the market, and restore competition to digital advertising.”

“One industry behemoth, Google, has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising,” wrote the DOJ in its complaint. “Having inserted itself into all aspects of the digital advertising marketplace, Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies.”

The complaint also alleges that Google has built up its monopoly by neutralizing or eliminating competition, through a combination of acquisitions and forcing advertisers to use its products. This has enabled Google to keep at least 30 cents of each advertising dollar, and the DOJ claims that Google’s own internal documents concede that it “would earn far less in a competitive market.”

“Google has wielded its power across the ad tech industry to dictate how digital advertising is sold, and the very terms on which its rivals can compete,” wrote the DOJ. “Google abuses its monopoly power to disadvantage website publishers and advertisers who dare to use competing ad tech products in a search for higher quality, or lower cost, matches. Google uses its dominion over digital advertising technology to funnel more transactions to its own ad tech products where it extracts inflated fees to line its own pockets at the expense of the advertisers and publishers it purportedly serves.” 


The DOJ’s demands include that, at a minimum, the company needs to divest the Google Ad Manager suite, “including both Google’s publisher ad server, DFP, and Google’s ad exchange, AdX, along with any additional structural relief as needed to cure any anticompetitive harm.” The agency also would “enjoin Google from continuing to engage in the anticompetitive practices” that were listed in its suit.

The eight states joining the DOJ in the suit are Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Retail TouchPoints reached out to Google for comment, but has not received a response.

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