retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Ten states sued Google Wednesday, accusing the search giant of running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly and enlisting rival Facebook Inc. in an alleged deal to rig ad auctions that was code-named after 'Star Wars' characters.

"The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, alleges that Facebook emerged in 2017 as a powerful new rival to Google, challenging the Alphabet Inc. unit’s established dominance in online advertising. Google responded by initiating an agreement in which Facebook would curtail its competitive moves, in return for guaranteed special treatment in Google-run ad auctions, the lawsuit claims."

The story goes on: "The accusations opened up a fresh front of criticism for both tech giants, each of which face federal antitrust lawsuits filed in recent weeks.

"Facebook declined to comment. Google denied engaging in any anticompetitive behavior and repeated its stance that it operates in highly competitive markets."

The Journal writes:  "Many of the accusations involve Google’s ad-tech software, which is used to buy and sell ads on sites across the web. Google owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers, giving it unique power over the monetization of digital content. It also owns key platforms for reaching consumers, such as YouTube.

"The Texas-led suit accuses Google of illegally tying these products to one another, leveraging its power in one part of the advertising chain to force publishers or advertisers to use another Google-owned tool."

KC's View:

I was sort of amused to see that the suit is being led by Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General … who had a bad week recently and probably would like to move the attention to this case rather than the one that got summarily dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

That said, I am sympathetic to this suit and am curious to see how it all plays out.  My growing sense is that the big tech companies - especially, but not just, Google and Facebook - need to be held accountable for their actions and closely regulated.  If Google is innocent, great.  But if not … well, there have to be repercussions.