Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced an antitrust lawsuit against Google for monopolizing multiple digital advertising technology products that he filed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 16 attorneys general.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the complaint alleges Google monopolizes key digital advertising technologies that website publishers depend on to sell ads and that advertisers rely on to buy ads to reach potential customers. Raoul seeks to restore competition in these advertising markets because website publishers use ad tech tools to generate advertising revenue.
“Google has created an unlawful environment in the digital world that has caused harm to online publishers and advertisers by weakening a free and open internet,” Raoul said. “Google cannot continue its monopolies in digital advertising technologies. I am proud to join the Department of Justice and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in this critical lawsuit for accountability.”
We look forward to litigating this important case alongside our state law enforcement partners to end Google’s long-running monopoly in digital advertising technology markets,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today we welcome the States of Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington and West Virginia who join our existing coalition of eight co-plaintiff states, to deliver the benefits of competition to website publishers, digital advertisers and the American public.”
The complaint alleges that over the past 15 years, Google engaged in anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct that neutralized or eliminated competitors by pursuing acquisitions, relying on its dominance in digital advertising markets to force advertisers to use its products and preventing the ability to use competing products. As a result, Google established its dominance in tools relied on by website publishers, online advertisers and the digital advertising exchange that runs advertising auctions.
The lawsuit alleges that Google controls the technology used by nearly every major website publisher to sell ads on their website, the dominant tool that millions of advertisers use to buy advertising space, and the largest exchange that matches buyers and sellers of online advertising.
Raoul asserts in the lawsuit that Google’s market share for publisher ad servers soared from 60% in 2008 to 90% by 2015, and that level of dominance continues today. According to the lawsuit, Google keeps at least 30 cents of every dollar in advertising that passes through its digital advertising technology products.
Due to Google’s monopolization of advertising, website creators earn less and advertisers pay more than they would in a competitive market. The lawsuit argues Google’s anticompetitive conduct has suppressed alternative technologies and hindered their adoption by publishers, advertisers and rivals. It seeks a breakup of Google’s advertising platforms and injunctive terms to end Google’s dominance of online ad marketplaces.
Joining Raoul and the DOJ in the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.