Google Gets Slammed With $2.3B Digital Ad Misconduct Lawsuit

Google Gets Slammed With $2.3B Digital Ad Misconduct Lawsuit

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: February 29, 2024

Google has received a 2.1-billion-euro ($2.3 billion) lawsuit filed by a consortium of 32 media groups, alleging that its digital advertising practices have caused substantial financial losses on the media organizations involved.

Some of the organizations that took part in the legal action initiated against Google on Wednesday include German multinational mass media company Axel Springer and media group Schibsted.

Other noteworthy members of the consortium include Krone from Austria, DPG Media and Mediahuis from Belgium, TV2 Danmark A/S from Denmark, Sanoma from Finland, Agora from Poland, Prensa Iberica from Spain, and Ringier from Switzerland.

The lawsuit was filed in a Dutch court, chosen for its reputation in handling antitrust damages claims and to consolidate legal proceedings across multiple European countries.

What Is the Lawsuit About?

The consortium contends that Google's dominant position in the digital advertising market has fostered an uncompetitive landscape.

This, they argue, has resulted in diminished revenues for publishers and inflated costs for ad tech services.

"The media companies involved have incurred losses due to a less competitive market, which is a direct result of Google's misconduct," according to a statement issued by legal representatives Geradin Partners and Stek.

Antitrust regulators have intensified scrutiny of Google's ad tech business, with the consortium referencing previous fines imposed by authorities in France and the European Commission as evidence supporting their claim.

Google has contested the EU antitrust charges related to its ad tech operations, where it operates on both the buy-side and sell-side of the advertising supply chain.

Nevertheless, publishers worldwide have expressed apprehensions regarding the escalating dominance of Big Tech in the advertising industry, with Google identified as the foremost digital advertising platform globally.

By pursuing legal action, the consortium aspires to rectify the alleged imbalance in the digital ad space and secure fairer terms for publishers.

Google Just Settled a $5B Privacy Lawsuit

The latest legal action taken against the search giant comes after a multi-billion dollar case it faced in the past.

Filed in 2020, a lawsuit that encompassed "millions" of Google users since June 2016 sought a minimum of $5,000 in damages per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws. 

It contended that Google's use of analytics, cookies, and applications allowed the company to track user activities, even when individuals use "Incognito" on Google Chrome or utilized other browsers in "private" mode.

The plaintiffs further argued that this practice transformed Google into an "unaccountable trove of information," allowing the company to gain insights into users' friendships, hobbies, food preferences, shopping behaviors, and potentially sensitive online searches.

In December of last year, the tech giant reached a preliminary settlement in the $5 billion suit, with lawyers from both sides confirming a legally binding term sheet agreed upon through mediation. 

How Commerce Media Is Changing Digital Advertising

Editing by Katherine 'Makkie' Maclang

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