Gannett Sues Google, Alleging Advertising Monopoly

by Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Gannett, the leading newspaper publisher in the United States, has taken legal action against Google, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the digital advertising market.

The USA Today publisher and more than 200 local publications filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in a federal court in New York.

The company is seeking unspecified damages, claiming that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, exert control over publishers’ buying and selling of online ads.

In court documents, Gannett asserts that this control has significantly reduced revenue for publishers and Google’s ad-tech competitors while allowing Google to enjoy excessive monopoly profits.

According to eMarketer, Google holds about 25% of the digital advertising market in the United States, while Meta, Amazon, and TikTok account for another third.

News publishers and other websites make up the remaining 40%. Although Big Tech’s market share is gradually declining, Google remains the dominant player by a wide margin.

Consequently, publishers often depend on Google’s advertising technology to sustain their operations, with Gannett claiming that Google controls 90% of the ad market for publishers.

Michael Reed, Chairman and CEO of Gannett, expressed his concern over Google’s dominant position in the online advertising industry, stating that it has come “at the expense of publishers, readers, and everyone else.”

Reed emphasized the significance of digital advertising for the online economy, highlighting that publishers can invest in their newsrooms with fair competition for digital ad space.

In response to the lawsuit, Dan Taylor, Google’s Vice President of Global Ads, disputed the claims made by Gannett, asserting that they were unfounded.

Taylor pointed out that publishers have multiple options for using advertising technology to monetize their content, including Google Ad Manager, which Gannett utilizes along with numerous other competing ad services.

Taylor argued that publishers retain the majority of revenue when they use Google tools and stated that Google would demonstrate to the court how their advertising products benefit publishers and contribute to funding their online content.

Gannett’s legal action against Google comes amidst an increasing number of antitrust complaints faced by Google in the United States and the European Union concerning its advertising business, which remains its primary source of income.

European Union officials recently called for the breakup of Google’s advertising business, citing “inherent conflicts of interest” resulting from the company’s involvement in various aspects of the digital advertising supply chain, which pose a threat to competition.

Similarly, earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice and eight states sued Google, alleging that the company’s dominance in the online advertising market harms competition and advocating for its separation.