Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday said he’s leading a multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the tech giant rigs digital ad markets in its favor.
“This internet Goliath used its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition and harm YOU, the consumer,” Paxton tweeted.
The lawsuit claims Google abuses its position as a market leader to manipulate ad auctions, driving up the price digital advertisers pay for ads.
As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, critics have pointed to “evidence of anticompetitive behavior to moves like Google’s longtime practice of giving itself a ‘last look’ in ad auctions; giving preference to its own Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, in search results to effectively force publishers to adopt a format that would make it harder to use alternative ad technologies; and requiring advertisers to use Google’s ad-buying tools to access YouTube ads.”
“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers,” A Google spokesperson told TheWrap. “Digital ad prices have fallen over the last decade. Ad tech fees are falling too. Google’s ad tech fees are lower than the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.”
Paxton said several states will be joining in the lawsuit, though he didn’t specify which ones. The lawsuit takes a direct aim at Google’s core business, with the company bringing in more than $37 billion in ad dollars last quarter. It also comes two months after the Justice Department filed its own antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the company’s dominance over online search has blocked competitors from gaining enough users to scale. (Read more about what antitrust experts make of that case here.)
Google’s share price was down 0.4% on Wednesday when news of the lawsuit hit. Overall, investors haven’t seemed too concerned with the antitrust cases mounting against Google, with the company’s stock price up 18% since the start of October.