Gannett sues Google over its alleged ad tech monopoly

Gannett-USA Today headquarters building in McLean, Virginia.

Paul J. Richards | AFP | Getty Images

USA Today publisher Gannett is suing Google for allegedly illegally monopolizing the advertising technology market, adding to an already-extensive list of lawsuits against the company for alleged anti-competitive behavior.

“With control over the largest ad exchange and ad server — both of which Google acquired rather than developed — Google has carried out a sophisticated, anticompetitive, and deceptive scheme for well over a decade,” Gannett argued in a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. The publisher said Google’s broad control of the ad tech market has hurt news publishers, claiming online readership has grown while online ad spending has decreased for publishers.

“Google has monopolized market trading to their advantage and at the expense of publishers, readers and everyone else,” Gannett Chairman and CEO Michael Reed said in a statement. “Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the online economy. Without free and fair competition for digital ad space, publishers cannot invest in their newsrooms.”

The lawsuit echoes arguments made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its second lawsuit against Google, following an earlier one focused on how it distributes its search product. That lawsuit similarly alleged Google illegally maintained a monopoly through its control of multiple parts of the ad selling and buying market.

A group of attorneys general led by Texas also alleged anti-competitive practices over Google’s ad tech products in a 2020 lawsuit.

VP of Google Ads Dan Taylor called Gannett’s claims “simply wrong” in a statement following the lawsuit.

“Publishers have many options to choose from when it comes to using advertising technology to monetize — in fact, Gannett uses dozens of competing ad services, including Google Ad Manager,” Taylor said. “And when publishers choose to use Google tools, they keep the vast majority of revenue. We’ll show the court how our advertising products benefit publishers and help them fund their content online.”

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