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Google Facing DOJ Lawsuit Over Alleged Digital Ad Market Dominance

The US Justice Department is preparing to file a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.'s Google as soon as Tuesday over the company's dominance in the digital advertising market, according to sources familiar with the matter.

January 24, 2023
5 minutes
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The US Justice Department is preparing to file a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.'s Google as soon as Tuesday over the company's dominance in the digital advertising market, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The case is expected to be filed in federal court before the end of the week, according to sources familiar with the matter. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

The Justice Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Google chose not to comment.

This will be the second time the Justice Department has filed a monopoly case against the company. The company is the No. 1 player in the $278.6 billion US digital-ad market and controls most of the technology used to buy, sell and serve online advertising.

This would be the fifth major lawsuit in the US challenging Google's business practices. Three separate suits have been filed against the company by state attorneys general, alleging that it dominates the markets for online search, advertising technology and apps on the Android mobile platform in violation of antitrust laws.

Alphabet, the Mountain View, California-based company, is expected to bring in $73.8 billion in US digital ad revenue in 2023, according to estimates by research firm EMarketer. This would make Alphabet the No. 1 company in the $626.86 billion global digital ad market. Google, an Alphabet company, runs an ad-buying service for marketers and an ad-selling one for publishers, as well as a trading exchange where both sides complete transactions in lightning-fast auctions.

Google has argued that the market for online advertising is a crowded and competitive one. In court filings and congressional testimony, the company has noted that it faces stiff competition from other major players in the ad tech market, such as Amazon.com Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google over its ad-tech business, according to sources familiar with the matter.This comes as the DOJ is already investigating Google's search and advertising businesses. The ad-tech probe is being led by the DOJ's antitrust division, which is also looking into Google's search business.The DOJ is expected to file the lawsuit against Google within the next few weeks, the sources said. It is not clear how soon the DOJ will file the lawsuit.

The DOJ's investigation of Google's control of the ad tech market began during the Trump administration. Then-Attorney General William Barr sued Google over its search business, alleging the company used exclusive distribution deals with wireless carriers and phone makers to lock out competition. That case is due to go to trial in September.

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