Washington AG Ferguson Joins Antitrust Suit Against Google Over Online Ad Business


Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Monday he is joining a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against Google over what he describes as the company's monopolization of online advertising.

"An open marketplace encourages competition and creativity," Ferguson said in a statement. "When Google muscles in and dominates the market, everyone loses — except Google."

The lawsuit centers around online ads, which website publishers use to earn money.

According to the lawsuit, Google now controls critical parts of the online ad market, including the technology that many online publishers use to offer ad space, the "leading tools" advertisers use to buy ad space, and the biggest ad exchange matching publishers with advertisers, the AG's office said.

"Due to Google's monopolization of advertising, website creators earn less and advertisers pay more than they would in a competitive market," the AG's office said in a news release Monday.

The lawsuit states that Google's "conduct hurts all of us" because as online publishers make less money from ads, they have to find other ways to make money, like subscriptions and paywalls.

The Department of Justice, Washington and the other states allege Google violated federal law barring monopolies after it bought an online advertising company, DoubleClick, in 2008, according to the AG's office.

After buying DoubleClick, Google "enhanced and entrenched" DoubleClick's "already dominant market position," according to the lawsuit.

Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.

This is the fourth lawsuit Ferguson's office has pursued against Google in the past three years, the AG's office said. Previous lawsuits concerned the company's collection of user location data, and two other antitrust lawsuits concerning different aspects of Google's business, including its app store and online search and search advertising.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia filed the lawsuit in late January alongside the U.S. Department of Justice.