Home Platforms The DOJ’s Antitrust Case Against Google: What To Expect When You’re Expecting

The DOJ’s Antitrust Case Against Google: What To Expect When You’re Expecting

SHARE:
Here’s a breakdown of different scenarios that could play out as the Justice Department pursues antitrust charges against Google.

Although the Department of Justice never comments publicly on pending litigation, leaks from sources in-the-know suggest an antitrust case against Google could come as soon as the end of this month.

But there are many different ways this could go down.

It’s been roughly one year since the DOJ began its investigation. Here’s a breakdown of different scenarios that could play out as the Justice Department pursues antitrust charges against Google.

Fast track

Career politicians and prosecutors are strongly motivated to pursue cases that give them the best chance of getting reelected, reappointed and/or that win them political points.

A high-profile anticompetition case against Google would fit that bill – literally.

With the US presidential election less than two months away, Attorney General Bill Barr is reportedly pushing for quick action despite entreaties from lawyers involved in the case to slow down and gather more evidence before pulling the trigger.

Compromise

But if the DOJ does bring a case prematurely, that might trigger Google to make proactive concessions in an effort to avoid a lengthy, reputation-damaging trial.

Don’t expect Google to divest DoubleClick, but it’s possible that Google might offer to open YouTube to third-party DSPs, for example, or make some other conciliatory move.

Even if those potential concessions prove to be an insufficient remedy to alleged antitrust violations, they could be the leverage Google needs to get a settlement.

Subscribe

AdExchanger Daily

Get our editors’ roundup delivered to your inbox every weekday.

“Google should settle with the government and focus on high-potential new products, like Custom Bidding, an innovation for advertisers with incrementality or persuasion goals,” Adam Heimlich, CEO of data science consultancy Chalice, told AdExchanger.

Heimlich testified in front of a Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing on Tuesday examining Google’s dominance in the online ad industry.

“Microsoft became a better company when it shifted focus to arenas where it could win a fair fight,” he said. “I think that pattern will hold for Google, and the sweet spot for them is buy-side tech for data-driven advertisers.”

State of affairs

The DOJ’s investigation isn’t the only one Google has to worry about, however.

Since September of last year, a coalition of 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, has been running separate but parallel investigations into whether Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the online advertising and search markets.

Although Bloomberg reports that around a dozen mostly Republican states could throw their weight behind the Department of Justice’s suit, certain Democratic states want more time to build their cases and could bring their own suits down the line.

There’s also said to be some internal sparring within the DOJ about whether the scope of its case should include both online advertising and search violations, or whether it should focus on one or the other.

The European way

And so here’s one more scenario: It’s also possible that we’ll see a series of cases brought in succession scrutinizing different aspects of Google’s business, rather than one massive mega suit.

That’s how the European anticompetition authorities have been dealing with the Google problem over the course of a decade.

The EU has launched three antitrust investigations into Google since 2010: one related to Google Shopping, a second into Google’s online ad practices via AdSense and a third probing the Android operating system.

The AdSense and Android cases resulted in guilty verdicts and more than 8 billion euros in fines.

Must Read

Nope, We Haven’t Hit Peak Retail Media Yet

The move from in-store to digital shopper marketing continues, as United Airlines, Costco, PayPal, Chase and Expedia make new retail media plays. Plus: what the DSP Madhive saw in advertising sales software company Frequence.

Comic: Ad-ception

The New York Times And Instacart Integrate For Shoppable Recipes

The New York Times and Instacart are partnering for shoppable recipe videos.

Experian Enters The Third-Party Data Onboarding Business

Experian entered the third-party data onboarder market on Tuesday with a new product based on its Tapad acquisition.

Privacy! Commerce! Connected TV! Read all about it. Subscribe to AdExchanger Newsletters

Albertsons Takes Its First Steps Into Non-Endemic Advertising, Retail Media’s Next Frontier

Albertsons is taking that first step into non-endemic advertising next week via a partnership with Rokt to serve ads to people who have already purchased groceries.

Marketecture Buys AdTechGod (No, Really)

Marketecture has acquired AdTechGod – an anonymous ad tech Twitter poster turned one-man content studio – and the AdTech Forum, an information resource hosted by AdTechGod and Jeremy Bloom.

Why The False Advertising Lawsuit Against Poppi Is Bad News For RMNs

This week’s dispatch explores the new trend of false advertising class-action suits in the food and CPG industry and how the evolution of online, data-driven retail media could exacerbate the problem.