Google Fights The Nation, Other Publishers Over Antitrust Claims

Last month, Google scored a victory in court when a federal judge dismissed antitrust claims by advertisers who alleged that Google monopolized a market for programmatic display ads.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose ruled in that case that the advertisers' proposed market -- meaning the market that Google allegedly monopolized -- was too narrow to support their claims, because it excluded display ads on social media as well as display ads sold directly by publishers.

Google is now urging the same judge to dismiss antitrust claims by web publishers, for similar reasons.

“To anyone with a computer, tablet, or phone, it is readily apparent that there is extensive display advertising on Facebook and other owned-and-operated 'social' sites, on Amazon and other owned-and-operated 'shopping' sites, and on other sites that contract with advertisers directly,” Google writes in papers filed Friday with Freeman.



Google's argument comes in an antitrust lawsuit brought by a host of publishers, including Sweepstakes Today, The Nation, Genius Media, Sterling International, Astarita, Mikula Web Solutions and JLaSalle Enterprises.

Their is one of numerous antitrust cases that Google currently faces. The company is also fighting claims brought by federal and state officials, and app developers, among others.

The publishers essentially claim that Google has monopoly power over programmatic display ads, or the “ad tech stack” -- which the publishers break into three markets: “ad server,” “ad exchange,” and “ad network.”

“Google uses its dominance across these markets to prevent competition, charge supracompetitive prices, and stifle innovation,” the publishers alleged in an amended complaint filed in April. “Google performs every function in the digital advertising chain that connects publishers and advertisers, and Google controls access to the majority of advertising volume. When publishers have tried to avoid Google’s dominance, Google has promptly used its monopoly power to stamp out those efforts and prevent competition.”

Google argues that the claims should be dismissed for several reasons, including that the publishers “ignore entirely the importance of downstream competition" from other companies that sell display ads. 

“Plaintiffs provide no basis for ignoring the constraints on ad tech services that sites such as Facebook and Amazon provide and their failure even to address downstream conditions means their market allegations fail as a matter of law,” the company writes.

Freeman is scheduled to hold a hearing in the matter in October.

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