Advanced Television

Google Ad class action go ahead

June 5, 2024

Google will face a £13.6 billion (€15.9bn) lawsuit alleging it has too much power over the online advertising market, a London court has ruled. The case concerns adtech, which decides which online adverts people see, as well as how much they cost to publishers.

Brought by the Ad Tech Collective Action LLP, the case alleges the Google behaved in an anti-competitive way which caused online publishers in the UK to lose money. Google parent Alphabet called the case “incoherent” in its attempts to get the legal action dropped. The Competition Appeal Tribunal has ruled the case can now go to trial.

“This is a decision of major importance to the victims of Google’s anti-competitive conduct in adtech,” said former Ofcom director Claudio Pollack, now a partner in Ad Tech Collective Action.

The Ad Tech Collective Action says digital advertising spend reached $490 billion in 2021. The core allegation is that Google is abusing dominance of the search sector and thereby reducing the income websites get. Ad Tech Collective Action says Google has engaged in “self-preferencing” – in other words promoting its own products and services more prominently than that of its rivals. It says that means publishers end up getting less money for the ads they host as well as having to pay “very high” fees to Google.

No court date has been set. The case is what is known as opt-out, meaning all relevant UK publishers are included unless they indicate otherwise it is being funded by an unknown third-party, and says UK publishers who form part of the claim will not pay costs to participate.

Google faces regulatory adtech probes in the UK, Europe and US, while it has already faced fines of billions of pounds from the European Commission for alleged anticompetitive behaviour.

Categories: Advertising, Articles, Policy, Regulation

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