DOJ Intensifies Google Antitrust Probe Zeroing In On Ads

The Justice Department antitrust investigation into Google seems to be ramping up with a flurry of activity this week, as the subject of the probe reportedly zeros in on the tech giant’s online advertising tools.

On Tuesday, several state attorneys general investigating Google met with Justice Department officials to coordinate their efforts to probe the search and advertising giant.

The attorneys general of Texas, Utah and Nebraska were among those in attendance. Nearly every state AG in the country is participating in the state-level probe led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

‘We’re working well together and trying to make sure that there aren’t redundancies,’ Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said. ‘We’re hoping to go as quickly as we possible can but I don’t have a specific timetable.’

At the federal level, Google’s ad-tech software appears to be a major focus of the probe, several people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. 

Virtually all major publishers use Google’s ad server, which connects online publishers to Google’s advertising exchange. 

Google’s ad server, DoubleClick for publishers, was integrated into its ad exchange, AdX, in 2018, and re-branded as a single product called Google Ad Manager.

Many publishers and advertising rivals accuse Google of tying its various tools together in anti-competitive ways.

The probe’s increasing focus on ad tools is believed to be the reason thatAssistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the department’s antitrust chief, stepped down from leading the investigation this week.

Delrahim lobbied on Google┬┤s behalf in 2007 when company faced antitrust scrutiny over its acquisition of advertising competitor DoubleClick.