You all know I hate writing about legal topics in search but I need to at least document these big ones here. And there is a lot going on. A lot of it is around alleged anti-competitive practices, with Facebook, hurting the advertisers on their platforms.
10 States Accuse Google of Abusing Monopoly in Online Ads from the NY Times on Wednesday said “The state prosecutors said that Google overcharged publishers for the ads it showed across the web and edged out rivals who tried to challenge the company’s dominance. They also said that Google had reached an agreement with Facebook to limit the social network’s own efforts to compete with Google for ad dollars. Google said the suit was “baseless” and that it would fight the case.”
Then yesterday Google’s Legal Peril Grows in Face of Third Antitrust Suit via the NY Times said “More than 30 states added to Google’s mushrooming legal woes on Thursday, accusing the Silicon Valley titan of illegally arranging its search results to push out smaller rivals.” It added that Google “downplayed websites that let users search for information in specialized areas like home repair services and travel reviews. The prosecutors also accused the company of using exclusive deals with phone makers like Apple to prioritize Google’s search service over rivals like Firefox and DuckDuckGo. That suppression, the states said in their lawsuit, has locked in Google’s nearly 90 percent market dominance in search and has made it impossible for the smaller companies to grow into formidable competitors. Google has sought to extend that dominance to new venues like home voice assistants.”
There is a ton of really well done coverage of these legal topics that you can read through Techmeme. I am really not good at covering this stuff, I assume because it does not interest me much. But it is important and it should be pointed out here.
Google’s response, which was given to Search Engine Land and others was ““Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers. Digital ad prices have fallen over the last decade. Ad tech fees are falling too. Google’s ad tech fees are lower than the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.”
And on the topic of suppressing competition, Google has a whole blog post. Heck, Google’s blog the past week or so has been about how Google helps us and how amazing Google is.
There is a WebmasterWorld thread, here is what some say on the topic there:
wonder what repercussions this may have for publishers. every time someone targets google i worry if they may just terminate adsense out of spite. sort of like the childish tantrum amazon affiliate program was throwing when states began hinting at levying tariffs on amazon products purchased by their residents.
Spite is not likely to occur as g depends on its ad biz and search … but there are other aspects of the Alphabet company (and its acquisitions) that are problematic — and a growing number of GOVERNMENTS are beginning to take notice, not only for competition questions but other influence/control that threatens other civil and national/international concerns.
Time will tell if the current spate of government investigations will make meaningful change in the future.
Another lawsuit, this one filed by 38 states that didn’t participate in yesterday’s, focused on how Google put its own products & answers above competitors in its results: https://t.co/WBSJ6OIpHe
I’d be pretty nervous if I were them. pic.twitter.com/hSVozFzLzZ
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) December 17, 2020
for a company who regularly dismisses the importance of its display advertising biz, it sure was willing to break a lot of antitrust laws… like the state AGs vs Facebook, I’m also thrilled here, this is the exact case I wanted against Google. As promised, Texas had the experts.
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) December 16, 2020
Forum discussion at Twitter.