In theory, when people talk about online advertising, they could be talking about advertising on a variety of platforms. In addition to Google, each social media platform has its own advertising options. Amazon and Bing also have advertising. But for most people, online advertising is synonymous with Google Ads. Google has the largest share of online advertising by far, accounting for almost 29% of the total digital advertising revenue generated in 2021.
The U.S. Department of Justice, along with eight states, is suing Google for allegedly abusing its monopoly on digital advertising. According to the lawsuit, Google systematically aimed to control large portions of the high-tech tools involved in digital advertising so they could control the market.
By filing the lawsuit, the Department of Justice is hoping to force Google to sell all of its ad technology products, including the software it uses to buy and sell ads, the marketplace it uses to complete the transactions, and the service it uses to display ads across the internet. The lawsuit is also seeking to force Google to stop engaging in allegedly anticompetitive practices.
This is the fifth antitrust lawsuit U.S. officials have filed against Google in the past 3 years, and that’s just in the U.S. At least one of the earlier lawsuits also focused on Google’s ad platform, while others have focused on things like Google’s dominance over online search and the way it runs its app store. The combination of dominating the search engine world and establishing itself as a one-stop shop for advertising has given Google the chance to set the price of online advertising.
Google and other major tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have already faced antitrust charges in Europe. They’ve also had to adjust as European legislators have passed laws limiting the ability of tech companies to gather and share personal information on their users.
Lately, U.S. lawmakers have been looking at adding their own privacy laws, both federally and at the state level. If put into effect, those laws, along with antitrust lawsuits like this one, could end up having a major effect on the way Google does business.
The idea behind antitrust laws is to promote innovation and keep prices low by making sure the marketplace stays competitive. But Google claims that, if the Department of Justice gets what they want from this lawsuit, the result will be less innovation and that ad publishers will end up having to pay more.
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