European media companies sue Google over ad practices

European news media companies are suing Google for $2.1 billion in damages, alleging that the tech giant’s ad technology practices have harmed their businesses.

Google, magnifying glass

More than 30 European news media companies, including Axel Springer, have filed a lawsuit against Google, seeking approximately $2.1 billion in damages. The companies allege that Google’s ad technology practices have created a less competitive market, resulting in financial losses for the media firms. The lawsuit contends that Google’s abuse of its dominant position has led to lower revenues from advertising and higher fees for ad tech services. The media companies argue that these funds could have been reinvested to strengthen the European media landscape. The case references the French competition authority’s 2021 fine of 220 million Euros against Google for abusing its dominant position in the ad tech market.

Geradin Partners and Stek, the media companies’ law firms, state that Google’s misconduct has directly impacted the profitability of news organisations. They assert that a more competitive market would have provided higher revenues for advertising and reduced costs for ad tech services. The lawsuit points to previous regulatory actions against Google, including the French competition authority’s fine and the European Commission’s statement of objections issued in June regarding abusive practices in online advertising tech. Google’s legal director, Oliver Bethell, has called the lawsuit ‘speculative and opportunistic’ and stated that the company will vigorously oppose it based on the facts.

Google, in response, defends its collaboration with publishers across Europe, emphasising the role of its advertising tools in helping websites and apps fund their content. Bethell highlights the adaptability and evolution of Google’s services in partnership with publishers and criticises the lawsuit as lacking substance. The legal battle adds to the challenges Google faces over its ad technology practices, with the Department of Justice launching a separate case last year. The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for Google’s position in the European advertising market and its relationships with media companies.