Google accused of boosting its own ad buying platform in antitrust suit | WARC | The Feed
You didn’t return any results. Please clear your filters.
Google accused of boosting its own ad buying platform in antitrust suit
Google stands accused of using past bidding data from its digital ad exchange to advantage its own buying system over those of competitors, per newly available court documents.
The story is likely to supercharge the debate over whether the company’s effective control over much of the digital advertising ecosystem has allowed anticompetitive tactics.
Why it matters
Political and regulatory interest in Google’s control over ad-serving, ad-buying, and ad-exchange services has heated in recent years, with a raft of lawsuits launched in 2020 at federal and state levels. Texas’ particular case focusses on whether the company used its bidding data to artificially affect the prices advertisers would have to pay to place an ad in what the state alleges to be a kind of digital ad market insider trading.
- Revealed during an antitrust lawsuit brought against the company in Texas last December, “Project Bernanke”, reported by the Wall Street Journal, the documents confirm prior reporting by the antitrust-focussed news firm MLex.
- Put simply, the Project Bernanke feature meant that unknown to ad publishers, Google could boost the likelihood of a Google Ads client win rates on Google ad exchange auctions.
- The documents point to a significant problem, given that over 90% of publishers use Google for ad sales. With exclusive information on what other ad buyers would be able to pay, a company would be able to gain an advantage, leading to publishers being paid less for winning bids.
- Google argues that using information in this way is appropriate and was “comparable to data maintained by other buying tools”. The company also invoked the findings of the CMA’s UK market study that found imbalances but not impropriety.
- Additionally, the document contains further details about an alleged secret deal between Google and Facebook back in 2018, in which the social network is said to have shelved a competitor technique to Google (Header Bidding) in return for bidding and winning a fixed percentage of ad auctions on Google’s platforms.
Sourced from the Wall Street Journal, WARC
Email this content