Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google Inc., attends a press conference in New Delhi, India on Wednesday January 4, 2017.
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Google is facing a new antitrust lawsuit from a Texas-led group of attorneys-general, this time focusing on its advertising technology services.
The lawsuit alleges that Google has illegally acquired, attempted to acquire or maintain a monopoly in multiple steps of the online advertising market, including the buy and sell side. It is also alleged that Google made illegal binding agreements between its ad products, so publishers had to use a different Google tool if they chose to exchange ads.
The lawsuit alleges that Google’s 2008 acquisition of ad tech company DoubleClick was a “fundamental change” in which the company began leveraging as a middleman to collect payments from every step of the complex online ad buying process to extract.
The complaint also alleges that Google and Facebook, labeled “co-conspirators”, harmed competition through an illegal agreement to fake auctions and fix prices. According to the complaint, the search giant allegedly struck a deal to curb competition when Facebook announced plans in 2017 to compete with Google in ad tech. Under the alleged agreement, Google would grant Facebook certain advantages at auctions it conducts for the inventory of advertising for mobile apps.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
States are looking for remedial action that could include separation and fines. They also called for a lawsuit.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a video announcing the lawsuit that Google “effectively eliminated its competition and crowned itself the leader of online advertising”.
“If the free market were a baseball game, Google would have positioned itself as a pitcher, batsman and referee,” Paxton said in the video.
Nine Republican-led states are joining Texas as co-plaintiffs: Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.
“Attorney General Paxton’s ad-tech claims are unfounded, but he carried on despite all the facts,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “We’ve invested in cutting-edge ad tech services that help businesses and consumers. Digital ad prices have come down over the past decade. Ad tech fees are falling too. Ad tech fees from Google are below the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will vigorously defend ourselves against its unfounded claims in court. “
Here is the full complaint: