Google and the DOJ

There has been chatter for years that Google is a monopoly and should be broken up. Optimists (free market champions and probably, shareholders) primarily looked at the search side of the business to make their case, arguing that there is plenty of competition on all sides, and a breakup wasn’t warranted.

But the most recent action by the Justice Department is pretty serious and straightforward, arguing that Google rigged their ad markets to maximize profits, damaging the publishers that overwhelmingly us Google tools to sell adspace on their sites. And, it goes further, arguing it’s time to break up Google.

The whole legal document is pretty interesting for nerds like me (I’m on page 80), but the Emerson Collective-backed has a great summary / explainer.

DOJ shows how, due to Google’s ability to manipulate ad prices, publishers ended up at the mercy of a monopoly that once promised them prosperity in their transition to the web.

For those of us swimming in digital media for years, this level of deep-code chicanery won’t be a huge surprise. Digital media has always, from day one, been sketchy and fast. The deeper you go into the middle world of the ad tech and data stack, the shadier it gets. So, I’m not surprised at the bid rigging that’s been in place, just sort of shocked that the impact hasn’t been bigger.

From the outside, it would seem relatively straightforward for Google to spin out a couple pieces of their ad stack (i.e. AdX) to make some space between their tools and take themselves out as the middleware. Meanwhile, i would imagine there are some marketers giving a second thought to their reliance on Google.

But, should GOOG be forced to do this? Is it a monopoly (or some sort of unfair market driver) when Google is only approximately 30% of the digital ad market in 2022?

Via Axios

I realize these sorts of cases aren’t always done for legal or business reasons, that there’s a strong political motivation here. And, I’m not a big fan of what Google is becoming. But, i’m also not sure what problem this particular piece of regulation is really solving and who really benefits.

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