Publishing Class-Action Cases May Mean Trouble For Google In UK, EU

UK newspapers have this week been reporting that the law firm Humphries Kerstetter is planning to bring a class action case against Google in the next month, with a similar lawsuit being filed in parallel by lawyers in the EU.

The allegations against Google will be familiar to followers of the tech giant’s antitrust woes in the US, where the state attorney general office in Texas has been in protracted legal battles with Google since it first launched an investigation in 2020. 

That investigation threw light on the shady deal Alphabet made with Meta known as Jedi Blue, and is likely to have contributed toward decisions in the EU and the UK to launch similar probes this year.

Digital advertising is extraordinarily complex but the fundamentals are pretty easy to grasp. Websites possessing a few square inches of digital real estate need to match with advertisers willing to pay for the space. But publishers rarely negotiate directly with advertisers. Instead, intermediaries known as ad exchanges sit between buyers and sellers to match supply with demand.

The accusation against the current system is that Google has set itself up as buyer, seller, and marketplace, and is able to extract value from the whole process at each step of the way, often muscling out competitor services and driving prices up or down to increase its own profits.

In one notorious email unearthed by Texas investigators, a Google employee wrote that: “the analogy would be if Goldman or Citibank owned the New York Stock Exchange.”

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