Google’s ad-tech business faces lawsuit from US Justice Department, its second antitrust case
- The US Department of Justice has accelerated an investigation of Google’s digital advertising practices, and a lawsuit could come as soon as this year
- The DOJ under the Trump administration previously sued Google over its search business, and state attorneys general also sued over digital ad practices
The Justice Department has accelerated its investigation of Google’s digital advertising practices and may file a lawsuit as soon as the end of the year, said the person, who declined to be named because the investigation is ongoing. No final decisions have been made and the timing could be pushed back.
Google touched a low in extended trading on the news, falling 0.6 per cent to US$2,888 at 5:03pm in New York.
That agreement with Facebook is also part of the DOJ’s investigation, said the person. The Justice Department declined to comment.
“Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, enable small businesses to grow, and protect users from exploitative privacy practices and bad ad experiences,” the company said in a statement. “There is enormous competition in advertising tools, which has made online ads more relevant, reduced fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”
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Bloomberg reported in June that officials from the Justice Department’s antitrust division had stepped up scrutiny of Google’s ad practices and had interviewed multiple Google competitors about the company’s conduct.
The Mountain View, California-based company owns major pieces of the online ad market. It runs an ad-buying service for marketers and an ad-selling one for publishers, as well as a trading exchange where both sides complete transactions in lightning-fast auctions.
These exchanges operate like online stock-trading platforms with an automated bidding process. Competitors and publishers have complained that Google leverages parts of this vast network, like its ad exchange, to benefit other areas and kneecap rivals.
Overall, these ad-tech products generated US$23 billion in gross revenue for the internet giant last year. Google has argued that it pays out much of these ad-tech sales to web publishers.