Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson has joined an antitrust lawsuit targeting Google’s advertising business.
The lawsuit, filed in January by the U.S. Justice Department and attorney generals from eight states, aims to break up Google’s advertising platforms.
The lawsuit asserts that Google violated antitrust laws after acquiring online advertising company DoubleClick in 2008, suppressing competition by measures such as making the tool available only to advertisers through Google’s ad-buying options.
According to the lawsuit, Google controls major components of the online ad business: the technology used by website publishers to offer advertising space; the tools used to buy advertisement space; and an ad exchange that matches publishers with advertisers.
“When Google muscles in and dominates the market, everyone loses — except Google. Ending Google’s illegal monopolization of online display advertising is a bipartisan issue,” said Ferguson in a statement Monday released by his office announcing Washington’s inclusion in the lawsuit.
Google’s market share for publisher ad servers was at 90% in 2015, and continues at high levels, according to the lawsuit. That results in “websites earning less and advertisers paying more,” said Ferguson’s statement.
Ferguson’s office cites a recent report showing that newspaper revenue in Washington state declined by about 30% between 2015 and 2020.
In a January statement, Google countered that it faces growing competition in the advertising business from Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and others. Google also criticized the suit for seeking to “reverse” its acquisition of DoubleClick and another company, AdMeld.
Washington state joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia in the lawsuit.
This is the latest lawsuit filed against Google by Ferguson. Others include a suit filed in 2022 claiming that the tech giant uses “deceptive and unfair practices” to track and collect location data; a suit related to political advertisements settled in 2021; another related to Google’s app store filed in 2021; and an antitrust-related suit filed in 2020.
Ferguson, a three-term attorney general, has made antitrust enforcement a primary focus of his office with price-fixing claims against the tuna industry including Starkist Tuna, and against large drug companies over generic drug pricing schemes.