The Justice Department is preparing to beat Google today in antitrust proceedings over the company’s dominance in search and search advertising, according to several reports.
The lawsuit alleges that Google holds a position as the gatekeeper of the internet because of unlawful and anti-competitive business practices, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first covered the news.
Google did not immediately return Adweek’s request for comment.
Antitrust proceedings against Google were long expected. Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee released a 449-page report outlining how Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon each act as “gatekeepers of a major sales channel.”
According to Statcounter, Google Search is by far the market-leading search engine with a US market share of more than 88% across all platforms.
The search also strengthens Google’s position as the market leader for digital Triopoly. According to eMarketer, Google owns 29.4% of the US digital ad market, while Facebook owns 23.4% and Amazon owns 9.5%.
In addition to search, Google owns a number of popular ad-supported properties like YouTube and Maps, and drives a number of ad tech products that maintain its market leadership position on both the buy and sell side.
Legislators briefed Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, along with other Big Tech executives in July of the company’s alleged monopoly in the digital ad market.
At the time, House Justice Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler Pichai was pressing on the data Google is collecting and whether it affects what messages the company’s algorithm produces when a user searches. At the time, Pichai said that Google’s algorithm “doesn’t take a business relationship into account”.
Regulators are also reportedly looking at a possible dissolution of Chrome, Google’s market-leading web browser.
According to GlobalStats, Google Chrome has a 66.3% share of the global web browser market. The stack of ads, popularly known as the DoubleClick, includes a dominant ad server as well as buy and sell side products that create an enclosed operating system or walled garden. This means that marketers and media owners have no choice but to use Google products.
This regulatory oversight comes as Google plans to free Chrome from third-party cookies by early 2022. Google is working with publishers and independent ad tech companies within W3C to develop a new way to deliver targeted ads on the open web.
However, other companies within W3C have stated that Google’s proposals seem to place their own products in a central gatekeeping role. The company’s antitrust report criticized Google for its “over-sized” influence within W3C, claiming that the advertising giant was “over-represented” within the consortium developing new standards for web advertising.