Gannett Co. Inc. has taken a stand against what it charges is a digital advertising monopoly by filing an antitrust suit against Google LLC and Alphabet Inc.
The case follows governmental anti-trust actions against Google in the United States and the European Union.
“Google controls how publishers sell their ad slots, and it forces publishers to sell growing shares of that ad space to Google at depressed prices,” Gannett charges in the complaint on file with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The complaint adds: “The result is dramatically less revenue for publishers and Google’s ad-tech rivals, while Google enjoys exorbitant monopoly profits.”
Gannett is asking for treble damages and orders enjoining Google from violating the Sherman Act and New York law.
Dan Taylor, vice president of Google Ads, says the lawsuit is "simply wrong," in a statement, according to reports.
The suit contends that “Google’s publisher ad server, DoubleClick for Publishers (“DFP”), controls over 90% of the publisher-ad-server market.” And its ad exchange (AdX) controls 60%, it continues.
AdX “transacts more than 60% of Gannett’s entire programmatic ad inventory,” the complaint continues.
In addition, “Google has tied its ad exchange (AdX) to its publisher ad server (DFP). Gannett and the entire U.S. publishing industry cannot practically reach 60% of buyers without using DFP,” the suit alleges.
The complaint adds: “With control over the largest ad exchange and ad server — both of which Google acquired rather than developed — Google has carried out a sophisticated, anticompetitive, and deceptive scheme for well over a decade.”
It continues, “Google’s scheme has been wildly profitable. For example, in 2022 alone, Google made $30 billion from manipulating auctions for ad space across the internet.”
Gannett notes that since 2019, "over 170 Gannett publications have been shuttered. For Gannett’s largest remaining publications, average daily circulation fell by nearly 20% between 2020 and 2021 alone."
The lawsuit against Google is similar to a class action suit filed by several plaintiffs against Google, Alphabet and YouTube in 2021, with an amended complaint filed late last year. The plaintiffs include Genius Media Group (k/n/a MediaLab AI, Inc.),1 Sterling International Consulting Group, The Nation Company, L.P., The Progressive, Inc., JLaSalle Enterprises LLC, and Mikula Web Solutions, Inc.