Google faces £22bn lawsuit from European publishers

Google is facing a £22bn lawsuit from European publishers who accuse the search engine of using anti-competitive methods to rob them of billions in revenue

  • Lawyers seek up to £22bn in damages for publishers across Europe
  • They say Google deprived media of revenue through ‘anti-competitive behavior’
  • US tech giant reportedly favors its own services in online advertising
  • This would have made it more difficult for competing advertising services to compete

A massive “ad technology” class action lawsuit has been filed against Google over its technology powering the online advertisements that consumers see on news media.

Lawyers seeking up to £22billion in damages for publishers across Europe say the US tech company starved the media of revenue because of its ‘anti-competitive conduct’.

The California-based company reportedly favors its own services in online advertising, making it harder for competing advertising services to compete.

It’s about the complex algorithmic bidding that powers Google’s online display advertising business, which would have seen it favor its own ad exchange.

The French Competition Authority fined Google £190m in June last year for its ad tech practices after it abused its dominant position.

A sign next to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California is pictured (file image)

Now a complaint is being lodged with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal which lawyers say will focus on recovering lost revenue from the sale of advertising space.

The action in Britain is being brought by competition law firm Geradin Partners, which works with litigation law firm Humphries Kerstetter.

There is also a class complaint representing publishers in the European Union which is being filed by Geradin Partners in conjunction with Dutch law firm Stek.

Toby Starr, partner at Humphries Kerstetter, said today: ‘This significant claim will represent a class of victims of Google’s anti-competitive behavior in advertising technology who have collectively lost approximately £7 billion.

“This includes news websites across the country with large numbers of daily readers as well as the thousands of small business owners who depend on ad revenue – whether from their fishing website, food blog, football fanzine or other online content they have spent time creating. and editing.’

Speaking about the EU action, which is being launched in the Netherlands, Jan Bart van de Hel de Stek said: “Many publishers have suffered damages as a result of Google’s wrongful actions.

“It is important to take action against this, not only to ensure that publishers’ damages are fully compensated, but also to ensure that anti-competitive behavior by Google is prevented in the future.”

Since the French case, the European Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have both begun to investigate Google’s behavior in ad technology.

Damien Geradin of Geradin Partners said: “Publishers, including local and national news media that play a vital role in our society, have long been harmed by Google’s anti-competitive behavior.

“It’s time for Google to take responsibility and repay the damage it has caused to this important industry. That’s why today we’re announcing these actions in two jurisdictions to seek compensation for EU and UK publishers.

In the UK, the CMA said in May that its investigation would focus on ad tech intermediation, also known as the “ad tech stack.”

It is a set of services that facilitate the sale of online advertising space between sellers and buyers, and is estimated to be worth £1.8 billion a year based on 2019 data.

The AMC said that Google is in a strong position at different levels of this space – providing a wide range of services, including platforms where advertisers can buy ad space online; technology that automates the sale of advertising space; and ad inventory management for publishers, who decide which ads to display.

Governments around the world are stepping up regulation of American tech giants that have grown even more powerful during the pandemic.

Britain launched a new competition regime last year to prevent Google and Facebook from using their dominance to weed out small businesses and disadvantage customers.

The move created a dedicated Digital Markets Unit within the CMA, which will have the power to suspend, block and reverse decisions made by tech companies.

It can also impose financial penalties for non-compliance, with companies told they need to be more transparent about how they use consumer data.

Mary I. Bruner