US says Google ‘unlawfully’ dominates ad industry in lawsuit

The United States Justice Department has sued Google, alleging the tech giant uses “anticompetitive, exclusionary and unlawful means” to stifle competition for digital advertising revenue.Justice Department lawyers filed the antitrust lawsuit in conjunction with eight states on Tuesday in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Central to the case is Google’s dominance of the ad tech business. Prosecutors said the company “now controls” the sector, forcing companies to use its technology for their online advertising needs.“Google has thwarted meaningful competition and deterred innovation in the digital advertising industry,” the lawsuit alleged.

In a news conference announcing the lawsuit, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said that “for 15 years, Google has pursued a course of anticompetitive conduct” that has halted the rise of rival technologies and manipulated the mechanics of online advertisement auctions.

Advertisers and website publishers have also complained that Google has not been transparent about where advertisement dollars go — specifically, how much goes to publishers and how much to Google.

For its part, Google has repeatedly denied it is a monopoly, saying that its rivals in the online ad market include Amazon, Microsoft and Meta, the social media giant that owns Facebook.

Google currently remains the leader in the advertisement revenue market by far. However, its share of US digital ad revenue has been gradually eroding, falling to 28.8 percent last year from 36.7 percent in 2016, according to Insider Intelligence.

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