Gannett Takes Legal Action Against Google and Alphabet, Alleging Digital Advertising Monopoly

Gannett, the leading U.S. newspaper publisher, has filed a lawsuit accusing Google and Alphabet of unlawfully monopolizing digital advertising. Explore the details of the case and its implications for fair competition in the digital advertising landscape.

Jun 20, 2023 - 10:49
Jun 20, 2023 - 10:49
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Gannett Takes Legal Action Against Google and Alphabet, Alleging Digital Advertising Monopoly
Gannett Takes Legal Action Against Google and Alphabet, Alleging Digital Advertising Monopoly

Gannett (GCI), the largest newspaper publisher in the United States, has taken a significant step by filing a civil lawsuit against Google and its parent company, Alphabet (GOOG). The lawsuit alleges that both tech giants unlawfully maintain monopolies in the advertising technology tools that publishers and advertisers rely on to buy and sell online ad space.

According to Gannett's claims, Google exercises control over how publishers sell their ad slots, forcing them to sell a growing share of ad space to Google at reduced prices. This unfair practice leads to diminished revenue for publishers and Google's ad-tech rivals, while Google itself benefits financially.

This legal action from Gannett follows a broader effort by the Justice Department and eight states to challenge Google's alleged monopoly on the entire online advertising ecosystem. These entities have accused Google of anti-competitive behavior and the exclusion of competitors in the online advertising space.

Google's dominance in digital advertising has also come under scrutiny by the European Union, which initiated an antitrust investigation in 2021. Recently, EU regulators escalated the matter by issuing fresh antitrust charges against Google and suggesting that divestment of certain segments of its digital ad business may be necessary to restore competition.

Mike Reed, CEO of Gannett, emphasized the importance of "restoring fair competition in a digital advertising marketplace that Google has demolished" in an opinion piece published in Gannett-owned USA Today. Reed highlighted how local news outlets are particularly impacted by Google's alleged bid-rigging practices.

"The core of the case and our position," Reed stated, "is that Google abuses its control over the ad server monopoly, making it increasingly challenging for rival exchanges to conduct competitive auctions."

As of now, Google has not responded to requests for comment regarding the lawsuit filed by Gannett.

Gannett's lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks unspecified damages and injunctive relief. The company also intends to have the case heard before a jury, signaling the significance of the allegations and the importance of fair competition in the digital advertising industry.

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