Google Must Face Trial Over Charges It Monopolizes Display Ads

A federal judge on Friday rejected Google's bid for judgment in its favor in a lawsuit alleging that the company monopolizes the market for online display ads.

Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema set a trial date for September -- a move that allows the Department of Justice to attempt to prove at a non-jury trial that Google violated antitrust laws. Brinkema hasn't yet issued a written decision.

The decision comes in a battle dating to January 2023, when the Department of Justice and more than a dozen states alleged that the company used anticompetitive tactics to monopolize the ad-tech stack.

Google “corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising,” the complaint alleged.



The authorities sought monetary damages and a court order that would require Google to unwind its 2008 acquisition of DoubleClick and 2011 purchase of AdMeld.

Google in April asked Brinkema to award it summary judgment -- meaning a verdict in its favor based on evidence that was developed in preparation for trial.

“It’s simply not an antitrust violation to develop a product that is particularly (or even uniquely) suited to serving customers’ needs,” Google argued in its written filing.

The company also argued that competition in the ad-tech space has grown since 2009, when real-time bidding emerged.

“The number of ad exchanges alone grew from fewer than 10 ad exchanges in 2010 to more than 100 today. And Google, for all of its technological innovation in this space, has never had more than 15% of digital display advertising spend (with that share falling) and has never raised prices,” Google contended.

The Justice Department and states urged Brinkema to reject Google's bid for summary judgment, writing that the charges involved factual disputes that could only be resolved at a trial.

The government lawyers also wrote that Google violated antitrust laws by “restricting publishers’ and advertisers’ choice of ad tech providers,” and “manipulating the mechanics of ad tech auctions to favor its own products.”

“Google uses its monopoly power to coerce its publisher and advertiser customers to choose Google over its rivals by subverting competition and making its products worse,” the Justice Department and states argued in papers filed in May. “This case is not about forcing Google to help its competitors or requiring Google to grant its competitors access to its ad tech products; it is about the constraints that Google has placed on its own customers.”

Next story loading loading..