Lawsuit alleges digital advertising practices violate U.S. antitrust and consumer-protection laws
Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) the largest publisher in the United States including USA TODAY and over 200 local publications, today filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Google for monopolization of advertising technology markets and deceptive commercial practices. The lawsuit seeks to restore competition in the digital advertising marketplace and end Google’s monopoly, which will encourage investment in newsrooms and news content throughout the country.
As more Americans read the news online, publishers depend on digital advertising revenue to provide timely, cutting-edge reporting and content that communities across the country rely on. Google’s practices have depressed revenue and impacted local newsrooms adversely by monopolizing the markets for important software and technology products that publishers and advertisers use to buy and sell ad space.
Google controls 90% of the market for “publisher ad servers,” which publishers use to offer ad space for sale. Google also controls over 60% of the market for “ad exchanges,” which run auctions among advertisers bidding for ad space on publishers’ websites. Google controls the largest source of advertisers bidding on exchanges. For Gannett, 60% of all buyers come through Google. The result is Google unfairly controlling selling, buying, and the exchange that matches sellers and buyers – and manipulating all aspects of online advertising transactions.
“Google has monopolized market trading to their advantage and at the expense of publishers, readers and everyone else. Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the online economy. Without free and fair competition for digital ad space, publishers cannot invest in their newsrooms,” said Michael Reed, Gannett Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “For more than a hundred years, Gannett has been a tireless advocate for freedom of the press empowering communities to thrive. This lawsuit seeks to ensure we can continue our mission for hundreds of years more.”
In 2022, Google made upwards of $30 billion in revenue from the sale of ad space on publishers’ websites which was six times the digital advertising revenue of all U.S. news publications, combined.
In December 2020, a bipartisan group of 17 State Attorneys General filed a lawsuit against Google raising similar allegations of ad-tech monopolization. The U.S. Department of Justice, joined by a bipartisan coalition of 17 additional States, filed its own ad-tech lawsuit against Google earlier this year. Both lawsuits have withstood Google’s best efforts to get the cases dismissed. And, last week, the European Union’s competition authority filed a related ad-tech case based on the same underlying conduct. The DOJ and EU are rightly seeking a breakup of Google’s ad-tech business, in addition to monetary damages and fines.
The full text of the complaint can be found here and additional information here as well as Mike Reed’s Opinion Editorial in USA TODAY here.
Certain statements in this press release are or may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the Company’s action against Google, the purpose and reason for the action, any anticipated damages related to the action, the costs to the Company related to the action, the outcome of the action, the risks placed upon the Company in connection with the action, and the timing of the action. Forward-looking statements can generally be identified by words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “develop,” “expect,” “opportunity,” “pursue,” “seek,” “will,” and similar expressions. These statements are based on management’s current views and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these statements, including the uncertainty of the outcome of the action against Google and any damages or amounts received in connection with the action, if any, and the uncertainty of the costs associated with and timing of litigation, in general. For a discussion of some of the additional risks and important factors that could cause actual results to differ from such forward-looking statements, see the risks and other factors detailed from time to time in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Furthermore, new risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for the Company to predict or assess the impact of every factor that may cause its actual results to differ from those contained in any forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that any of the events anticipated by the Company’s forward-looking statements will occur. Except to the extent required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.