MailOnline Sues Google Over Alleged Anti-Competitive Behaviour
MailOnline is suing Google in the United States for alleged anti-competitive behaviour claiming Google exploits its dominance in the ad tech industry to harm rivals and manipulate ad auctions and news search results in a way that punishes online publishers.
The anti-trust lawsuit against Google was filed in the US District Court in New York on Tuesday by Associated Newspapers Ltd and Mail Media Inc, the parent company of DailyMail.com and MailOnline.
The lawsuit accuses Google of utilising its market power dominance to increase profits for themselves by engaging in bid-rigging and search bias that harms publishers and advertising rivals MailOnline reported.
Google exploits its control of ad tech tools by forcing publishers to use its own ad server, which it has tied to its own exchange, in a bid to stamp out competition from rival exchanges, the lawsuit alleges.
The search giant’s ad server controls more than 90 percent of the market for publisher ad serving and its exchange controls more than 50 percent of the exchange market, according to the suit.
According to the complaint, Google makes it difficult for publishers to compare prices among different exchanges, reduces the number of exchanges that can submit bids for ad space and even uses bids offered by rival exchanges to set its own bids.
This lack of competition means Google ends up ahead because it controls a growing share of the ad space that remains, the lawsuit alleges.
A Daily Mail spokesman said: “This lawsuit is to hold Google to account for their continued anti-competitive behaviour including manipulation of ad auctions and news search results, bid rigging, algorithm bias and exploiting its market power to harm their advertising rivals,’.
“Despite increased criticism by regulators and governments around the world, Google’s ongoing behavior clearly shows they are not prepared to change their conduct.
“DailyMail.com brings this antitrust action for compensation and for injunctive relief to restore competition in the monopolized markets and safeguard news content for readers. This includes, but isn’t limited to the elimination of forced tying of products, bid rigging and bias in news search results, while also providing transparency when they make changes to their algorithm.
“DailyMail.com is a world leader in digital news and is taking this necessary action to address Google’s harm to publishers and to protect freedom of speech.”
According to the complaint, Google punishes publishers by allegedly manipulating search rankings if they do not sell enough advertising space through the tech company’s own exchange.
A Google spokesperson said the Mail’s claims in the lawsuit “are completely inaccurate.”
“The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher’s website ranks in Google Search. More generally, we compete in a crowded and competitive ad tech space where publishers have and exercise multiple options.
“The Daily Mail itself authorizes dozens of ad tech companies to sell and manage their ad space, including Amazon, Verizon and more. We will defend ourselves against these meritless claims.”
Simon Duke, technology business editor at the Times, commented on the lawsuit: “The complaint highlights the conflicts of interest at the heart of the Google machine. The Silicon Valley giant vies with publishers for marketing dollars but it also makes money through its exchange and other tools used by advertisers and website owners to buy and sell ad slots.
“The Mail alleged that Google had systematically rigged auctions, enabling it to buy space on MailOnline “on the cheap”, sell it to other bidders at inflated prices and pocket large commissions. Skewing search results was a common ploy used by Google to encourage publishers to use its ad broking operation, according to the publisher.”
Google is facing similar allegations in a lawsuit filed by Texas and a group of other states in December.