The DOJ Launches Attack Against Google’s Alleged Monopoly

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September 18, 2023
The DOJ Attacks Google's Alleged Monopoly
Introducing the Commerce SSP
AI Companies Make Peace With White House
The DOJ Launches Attack Against Google's Alleged Monopoly
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice kicked off the largest monopoly trial in nearly two decades since challenging Microsoft. This time, the culprit is Google, no stranger to a lawsuit.

In the coming months, the DOJ and a group of state attorneys will make their case for the D.C. Circuit Court. They will argue that Google allegedly violated anti-monopoly laws through exclusive agreements with mobile phone and browser manufacturers to make its search engine the default for consumers.

On the other hand, Google must prove why its behavior is not anti-competitive and how it provides a better experience for consumers.

Google "The All Seeing Eye": The DOJ will focus on two agreements Google has made with other companies.

- The first agreement: Google makes payments to browsers like Apple to be the default search engine on iPhone's Safari browser and other devices.
- The second agreement: Google has contracts with phone manufacturers that run Google's Android operating system and requires them to preload certain Google apps.

The Government's Claims: The DOJ argues that these business tactics locked up essential distribution channels for search, making it impossible for rival search engines to compete. They allege these tactics violate antitrust laws by creating a monopoly.

Additional claims allege that Google failed to make the search advertising tool Search Ads 360 (SA360) sufficiently interoperable with Bing. They wrote in the complaint that "Google favors advertising on its platform and steers advertiser spending towards itself by artificially denying advertisers the opportunity to evaluate the options that would serve those advertisers best."
Why This Matters

Who knew that search engine drama could be so juicy? This case holds implications for monopolies, antitrust violations, and the possible upending of a business model for one of the biggest companies in the world.

There's a lot at stake for the federal Government, Google, and big tech.

For the Government, it's a chance to prove it can tackle modern digital monopolies. Winning would reaffirm that enforcing antitrust laws fuels innovation, similar to how the Microsoft case shaped the open internet ecosystem for companies like Google.

Conversely, Google fights to maintain its business model, arguing that it provides the best user experience. Losing could force Google to rethink its approach, potentially leading to changes in how it operates in the digital market. There's a tension between preserving practices and complying with evolving antitrust regulations.

Federal regulations have attacked Big tech monopolies from all sides, but if the Government comes out on top, this could be the first nail in the coffin. For a long time, the duopoly — Meta and Google — hoarded around 85% of ad spend, but privacy regulations took some of that power. This case could help contribute to that as well.

What Is a Commerce SSP?
Retail media's meteoric rise is a trend reshaping digital advertising. In this case, we are referring to offsite retail media, where advertisers use retailer data to target audiences at scale across the open web.

In 2020, the offsite segment accounted for $1.83 billion, or 8.8%, of total retail media spend. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2023, offsite is projected to account for 14.5% of the market—over $6.5 billion in ad revenue.

What's driving this surge? It's all about the way we're shopping. More consumers are leveraging the open internet for product discovery, research, and comparison, navigating multiple touchpoints across their buying journey. As ad spend on retail media grows, so does the pot for digital publishers who are part of that commerce journey.

McKinsey estimates that the growth in Commerce Media will represent a $50 billion opportunity for publishers and media owners by 2026. But how can publishers tap into this lucrative market?

Capitalizing on the commerce media opportunity isn't easy, especially for publishers reliant on traditional SSPs. These platforms often fail to deliver the shopping data, insights, and formats advertisers and publishers need to unlock real commerce outcomes. For publishers looking to capitalize on commerce media, adapting to the shifting landscape—and finding a tech partner to guide them—is the golden ticket.
Why This Matters
The evolution of commerce media has given rise to a new kind of SSP. The "commerce SSP" seamlessly connects commerce and media, delivering a new source of incremental demand to media owners while offering new tools, ad formats, and insights to engage buyers looking to drive commerce outcomes.

The commerce SSP is a tool designed for the publisher who wants to take full advantage of the next wave of digital advertising, opening the door to direct access to premium commerce data and budgets, unique commerce-powered data signals for deals packaging, and shopper insights to inform audience-selling and editorial strategies. This isn't just about selling ads anymore—it's about creating connections that drive sales, foster loyalty, and build lasting relationships with advertisers and consumers alike.

Publishers need to work with a supply partner that can supplement their own audience intelligence and supply commerce insights and data signals. To learn more about how you can kick-start your commerce strategy, connect with Criteo Commerce Grid—the first SSP purpose-built for connecting commerce to media.
More AI Companies Promise the White House They’ll Be Responsible
The News: The Biden Administration is continuing its effort to keep Americans safe from the worst of AI abuses. Last week, it announced that it extracted commitments to develop AI responsibly from eight more AI companies: Adobe, Cohere, IBM, Nvidia, Palantir, Salesforce, Scale AI, and Stability.

By signing on, all eight companies promise to “help advance the development of safe, secure, and trustworthy AI.” The commitments are voluntary, and the administration has been silent on whether it will enforce (or even monitor) them.

Background: These promises to be good may be the industry’s attempt to thwart regulation, which Congress seems intent on exploring. This month alone, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the Senate Energy have all held hearings on AI. One of those hearings -- the one where executives from AI companies testified -- was behind closed doors, so we’re not really sure what was discussed.

It isn’t surprising that Congress is scheduling so many hearings. The American public has long feared AI and has been vocal about those fears. A Monmouth University poll found that only 9% of Americans believed AI would do more good than harm to society. Many also fear a loss of privacy and that AI will eliminate their jobs (it’s one of the reasons Hollywood writers are still on strike).

Is Meaningful AI Regulation Even Possible? Still, many wonder if Congress can pass bipartisan legislation that encourages rapid development of AI while simultaneously curbing its abuses (the real ones, like bias and discrimination, and not the fake ones, like causing the extinction of humankind).

“As generative AI is poised to flood the internet with more—and more convincing—disinformation and misinformation, many AI experts say the top goal of the Senate should be restoring faith in the Senate itself,” wrote Matt Laslo in Wired.

The AI regulation debate is reminiscent of the early days of the Web when the Clinton Administration and Congress wanted to enable rapid development of the “information superhighway” and spur US economic growth. The growth-at-all-costs has ushered in a lot of ills, including privacy abuses, user safety, and hits to democracy. Admittedly, we still largely leave it to the platforms to regulate themselves.
Why This Matters
We’ve already seen numerous instances where AI has harmed real people. One hopes that these AI companies indeed commit to developing unbiased and fair AI, but without enforcement, that may be wishful thinking.

The developments in generative AI come at a particularly perilous time for the US. Experts are warning that the American public will be bombarded with political ads that are created by AI, including deep fakes.

Google announced that it will require political advertisements to prominently disclose when they feature synthetic content beginning next month. Whether Google can or will enforce that policy -- and whether other platforms follow suit -- are more questions to which we don’t have answers.
One X Post
Exotic Data?
Yo! I want to buy some data I've never heard of before. Who's got something exotic to show me?

This is not a troll. DM me if you have anything cool so I can see it before the AG makes you delete it.
Worth a Listen
Ads as a Force for Good?
Amy Williams is the CEO of Good-Loop, an ad tech company looking to make ads a force for good. The discussion entails a chat about ESG and de-carbonization in the world of ad tech, Criteo's DSP, 605 acquisition, VideoAmp's latest fundraise, and more.
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