New details have surfaced about a lawsuit filed by several US state attorneys general against Google. Documents were published last Friday that shed light on possible manipulation of advertising sales. The lawsuit alleges that Google has maintained control of the online advertising market it dominates by increasing the brands’ ad prices and stifling competition from other ad exchanges.
The lawsuit, filed in December 2020, alleges that Google misled publishers and advertisers about the price and process of conducting ad auctions. At the time the lawsuit was filed, many documents, as well as portions of the lawsuit itself, were being processed for review, but were then released to the public in their original form through a court decision.
According to the leaked documents, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above, right) and Google CEO Sundar Pichai (pictured, left) were aware of the deal and approved the two companies’ collaboration to potentially manipulate ad sales.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit states “Google pocketed the difference between actual and advertised advertising costs for publishers and advertisers and used the funds to manipulate future auctions to expand its digital monopoly.” The documents also cite internal messages in which Google employees wrote that they were used “Inside Information” for business development.
It is also alleged that Facebook (now Meta) and Google executives reached an agreement that allegedly guaranteed that Facebook would bid for and receive a portion of online ad placement. According to the lawsuit, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, who previously served as Google’s vice president of online sales, specifically stated so in 2018 “This is of great strategic importance,” talk about a deal the Facebook CEO was involved in.
When both parties have worked out the terms of the contract, “The team sent an email addressed directly to the CEO” Pile of sugar. If it turns out that Pichai personally agreed to the deal, he could be involved in manipulation in the expansion of Google’s advertising monopoly. A Google spokesperson told the AP that while the deal isn’t a secret, it would be wrong to say Pichai was ok with it.
“Each year we sign hundreds of agreements that do not require CEO approval, and this is no exception,” said a company representative. Google spokesman Peter Schottenfels also referred to the lawsuit in a statement “Filled with inaccuracies and has no legal force.”
Meta spokesman Chris Sgro said Friday that the company has an ad auction agreement with Google and similar deals with other ad placement platforms “has helped increase competition for ad placement.” “This relationship allows Meta to deliver value to advertisers while rewarding publishers fairly, leading to better results for everyone.” said Schro.