Google sued over unscrupulous ad tech practices

The US federal government filed charges against the Google corporation, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing digital advertising technologies, creating an unfair advantage over its competitors.

The anti-trust lawsuit accuses Google of bulldozing its way into the online ad tech market over a decade ago, forcing smaller advertisers, and the website publishers who would support them, to take a back seat when it came to product placement and the ability to generate reasonable advertising revenue.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), backed by eight state attorney general offices “alleges a pervasive and systemic pattern of misconduct through which Google sought to consolidate market power and stave off free-market competition,” said US Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.

The company faced a similar lawsuit brought forth by the UK and the EU in September 2022.

Google responded to the DOJ filing, claiming the suit is "without merit, and says it will "defend itself vigorously."

In the US, Google’s alleged anti-trust violations specifically refer to Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, which outlaws monopolies and anticompetitive conduct.

Google’s manipulative practices have inadvertently denied the public access to a “vibrant open web experience” and “access to ideas, artistic expression, information, goods, and services,” the DOJ said.

Google is accused of controlling three key digital technologies the DOJ refers to as the “ad tech stack.”

This online trio includes the publisher's server, used by every major website publisher to sell ads; the ad network, which controls the inventory of ads for purchase; and the ad exchange platform, which matches buyers and sellers in real-time.

The suit claims Google ruthlessly takes advantage of the market by “neutralizing or eliminating ad tech competitors through acquisitions.”

Other claims include forcing website publishers to adopt Google’s tools and distorting the ad exchange competition.

The DOJ release states that Google makes over 30% profit on all the advertising flowing through its digital technology products.

“In pursuit of outsized profits, Google has caused great harm to online publishers and advertisers and American consumers, “ Monaco said.

The lawsuit “seeks to restore competition in these important markets and obtain equitable and monetary relief on behalf of the American public,” the DOJ said.

The civil suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Tuesday.