The Internet giant Google is the subject of a complaint filed by several American states which accuse it of having misled publishers and advertisers for years on the pricing and processes of its advertising auctions.
In an antitrust complaint filed against Google in December 2020, details of which were made public on Friday, a group of state attorneys general led by Texas alleges that the chief executives of Google and Facebook personally oversaw an illegal 2018 which favored Facebook on Google’s advertising auctions.
Facebook, recently rebranded as Meta, is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
As part of the deal with Facebook, Google and Facebook unlawfully collaborated to lower prices paid to publishers, exclude rival ad networks, and manipulate ad auctions run by publishers, according to the complaint.
Google pocketed the difference between what it told publishers and advertisers about the cost of an ad and used that pool of money to manipulate future auctions to expand its digital monopoly, the source said.
Documents cite internal correspondence in which Google employees claim that some of these practices amount to growing its business through “inside information.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose name is redacted in the complaint, called the deal “highly strategic” in an email that included Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose name is also redacted. Ms Sandberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have approved the terms of the deal, US officials say, noting that Ms Sandberg was previously a senior executive in Google’s advertising business.
According to the plaintiffs, Google entered into the agreement after Facebook announced a measure that would help publishers and advertisers circumvent fees imposed by Google for advertising through its services. According to the states, Google feared a long-term threat to its monopoly on ad servers if enough buyers were able to circumvent its fees.
A Google spokesperson said the lawsuit was “full of inaccuracies and lacking in legal merit.” He added, “Our ad technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and allow small businesses to reach customers around the world. There is vigorous competition in the field of online advertising. »