It has been reported that the Justice Department (DOJ) may soon issue a second monopoly lawsuit against Alphabet Inc (Google) over its giant’s digital advertising business.
Back in July, Google was issued with an antitrust lawsuit by 38 US states over allegations relating to how it may have been abusing its position of power in relation to Android app distribution and competition, and for (allegedly) abusing its market power to make its search engine as dominant inside cars, TVs, and speakers as it has been in phones.
This Possible New Lawsuit
Reports that a new DOJ lawsuit may be on the way seems credible since Google was sued under former Attorney General William Barr over its search business, and then faced another antitrust complaint filed with many state attorneys alleging that Google had illegally monopolised the digital advertising market. It is claimed that Google (allegedly) reached an illegal agreement with Facebook Inc., the purpose of which was to manipulate online auctions where advertisers and website publishers buy and sell ad space.
Google has faced other lawsuits in recent times, such as when Epic Games sued the $1 trillion tech giant over the removal of Fortnite from the Play Store last year (it was also removed from the iOS App Store).
Joe Biden Big Tech Crackdown
In more potentially bad news for Google (and other tech giants), in July this year, US President Joe Biden signed a new executive order to try and crack-down on anti-competitive practices in big tech. The executive order highlights how big players in the tech sector may be using their market power to box out smaller competitors and exploit consumers’ personal information.
Criticism Over Plans To Block Cookies
Back in March, U.S. Justice Department investigators were reported to have been concerned that Google’s plans to ban some cookies in its Chrome browser (which Google said would increase user privacy) could be a way for Google to hobble its smaller rival ad companies by stopping them from tracking users.
Although Google said that it planned not to simply remove third-party cookies but to phase them out over two years (to allow time to develop workarounds that address the needs of users), businesses, publishers, advertisers and critics noted that this may give Google a couple of years in which to be in control and to dominate other advertisers even more.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Clearly, following on from the Trump administration’s attacks on big tech, it seems that Joe Biden is also keen to tackle the tech giants, particularly on matters relating to competition and how they may be using their market power, and how this may be adversely affecting their smaller competitors. Google, Facebook and other big advertising platforms (particularly Google), are very much in the investigation (and lawsuit) firing lines. For Google, legislation, government regulation, and lawsuits are clearly something it would like to delay and avoid, but it looks as though Joe Biden’s administration intends to keep the pressure on. For business advertisers, being able to reach as many members of their target markets in the best and cheapest way possible (maximising ROI) is the key concern, and it remains to be seen how this would be affected if anti-competition action could be and was taken. For the time being, however, using lawsuits (and the bad publicity they generate) plus the threat of regulation are likley to be the only main leverage that governments have for bringing the very powerful, wealthy tech giants to account.