You all know that I hate writing on legal topics in Search, but I need to at least document these major ones here. And there is a lot going on. Much of it is about alleged anti-competitive practices in which Facebook hurts advertisers on their platforms.
10 states accuse Google of abusing its monopoly on online advertising by the NY Times. "Prosecutors said Google had overwhelmed publishers for the ads they ran on the Internet and drove out competitors who were trying to question the company's dominance." Google had reached an agreement with Facebook to curtail the social network's own efforts to compete with Google for advertising dollars. Google said the lawsuit was "unfounded" and would fight the case. "
Then, yesterday, Google's legal threat grows in light of its third antitrust lawsuit against the NY Times. "More than 30 states contributed to Google's growing legal troubles on Thursday, accusing the Silicon Valley titans of illegally arranging their search results to drive out smaller competitors." It added that Google had downplayed websites where users could search for information in specialized areas like repair services and travel reports. Prosecutors also accused the company of using exclusive deals with phone manufacturers like Apple to prioritize Google's search service over competitors like Firefox and DuckDuckGo.This suppression, the states in their lawsuit said, has almost 90 percent dominance of the market by Google secured the search and made it impossible for smaller companies to develop into impressive competitors. Google has been trying to extend this mastery to new venues like Home Voice Assistants. "
There is a lot of really well-done coverage of this legal topic for you to read on Techmeme. I'm really not good at handling this stuff, I suppose, because I don't really care. But it is important and should be highlighted here.
Google's response to Search Engine Land and others was: "" Attorney General Paxton's ad tech claims are baseless, but he acted against the facts. We have invested in cutting-edge ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers. Digital ad prices have decreased over the past decade. Ad tech fees have also fallen. Google ad tech fees are below the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will strongly defend ourselves against his baseless claims in court. "
And on the subject of suppression of competition, Google has an entire blog post. Last week's Google blog was about how Google is helping us and how great Google is.
There is a WebmasterWorld thread. Some say there on the subject:
I wonder what impact this could have on publishers. Every time someone points Google I worry if they can quit Adsense out of spite. Much like the Child-like Tantrum Amazon Affiliate Program, when states began advancing tariffs on Amazon products purchased by their residents. This is unlikely to happen since g depends on its advertising business and quest … but there are other aspects of The Alphabet company (and its acquisitions) that are problematic – and a growing number of GOVERNMENTS are starting, not only to draw attention to competition issues, but also to other influences / controls that threaten other civil and national / international concerns.
Time will tell whether the current spate of government investigations will bring about significant changes in the future.
Another lawsuit filed by 38 states that didn't participate yesterday focused on how Google put its own products and responses above the competition in its results: https://t.co/WBSJ6OIpHe
I would be pretty nervous if I were her. pic.twitter.com/hSVozFzLzZ
– Rand Fishkin (@randfish) December 17, 2020
For a company that routinely disapproves of the importance of its display advertising business, it sure was poised to break many antitrust laws. Like the state AGs against Facebook, I'm excited here too. This is exactly what I wanted against Google. As promised, Texas had the experts.
– Jason Kint (@jason_kint) December 16, 2020
Forum discussion on Twitter.