DOJ Sues Google Over Online Advertising

January 24, 2023

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and eight states filed suit against Google on Tuesday, claiming the web giant has an illegal monopoly over online advertising.

It was the fifth antitrust suit against Alphabet-owned Google since 2020. In that year, the DOJ’s lawsuit asserted that the website was in a search monopoly. That case is expected to go to trial in September.

By buying up competitors and steering potential customers to its own products, Google “has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry,” the DOJ said in Tuesday’s complaint.

The states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia joined the DOJ in its latest lawsuit.

Google also faces three other antitrust lawsuits from large groups of state attorneys general, including one targeting its ad business that’s led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Critics of Google’s ad business say that because it operates on multiple sides of the market—buying, selling and an ad exchange—it has an advantage on insight into the process and potential leverage. The company has long denied that it dominates the online market, pointing to the share of the ad market by competitors like Meta-owned Facebook. 

Google makes more than 80% of its revenue from advertising. Its ad business generated $54.5 billion in the quarter ended September 30 from Search, YouTube, Google Network ads and other advertising. In the most recent full year available, 2021, Google’s ad revenue totaled $209 billion. 

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