The United States Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of abusing its dominance in the digital advertising market and seeking to force the company to sell its ad manager suite. The lawsuit targets a business that accounts for 80% of Google’s revenue and calls for the breakup of the company’s ad technology business.
In the antitrust complaint, the Justice Department claims that “Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies.” The lawsuit is being joined by eight states, including California, where Google is based.
Google has denied the allegations, with a statement from the company stating that the government’s argument “would slow innovation, raise advertising fees, and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”
This is not the first time that Google has faced antitrust action from the government. In 2020, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging violations of antitrust law in how Google acquires or maintains its dominance with its monopoly in online search. That case is scheduled to go to trial in September of this year.
The Biden administration’s lawsuit is part of a larger effort to level the playing field for rivals to Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. In recent years, there have been growing concerns about the market power of these companies and their impact on competition and innovation.
In addition to accusations of dominance in the digital advertising market, Google has also faced criticism for its lack of transparency in how ad dollars are distributed, with many advertisers and website publishers complaining that they do not have a clear understanding of how much money goes to publishers and how much goes to Google.
The company has made a number of acquisitions in recent years, including DoubleClick in 2008 and AdMob in 2009, which have helped solidify its position as a dominant player in the online advertising market. However, Google’s share of the US digital ad revenue has been decreasing in recent years, falling from 36.7% in 2016 to 28.8% in 2020.
The Justice Department has requested a jury trial for the case, which was filed in Virginia. The lawsuit lays out several instances of Google’s attempts to dominate the advertising market and argues that the company has the means to quash competition through its “tech tools.” The suit specifically references a technique called “header bidding,” which allows companies to bypass Google and bid directly on ad space on websites