Understanding Daily Mail v. Google

The Daily Mail’s lawsuit spotlights the harm Google causes big and small news publishers due to its monopoly control of the digital advertising business, online search, and web browsing markets. Google has long abused its monopoly power – rigging ad prices against news publishers to reduce their revenue, punishing publishers that don’t use Google products,  and favoring their own products – to take further hold of the market, with deleterious effects on how Americans can get their news. 

This has cost news outlets billions in ad revenue, tens of thousands of jobs, and forced the closure of thousands of newspapers in the United States and around the world. It’s now clear that because of Google’s unlawful actions, news publishers have never had a fair shot at competing in the online marketplace. Action like this lawsuit and the other antitrust and regulatory actions against Google in the U.S. and around the world are desperately needed to save journalism.

Top 3 things you need to know about this lawsuit:

  1. Google is the dominant player controlling the largest systems at every point in the digital advertising marketplace. It is is both a buyer and seller of advertising in that marketplace – clearly an unfair, illegal advantage over publishers. 
  • By setting low rates when buying ad space from newspapers and setting rates high to small businesses who rely on online advertising, Google is hurting both and pocketing the profits. With no accountability or transparency, an apt analogy is if the New York Stock Exchange kept details of stock sales private, had sole access to all data of sales, had no insider trading controls, and was able to continue buying and selling. This is not a market open to competition, and needs to be fixed.
  1. The core of Google’s business model is to abuse its monopoly – of the digital ad market to rig prices, of the browser market with Chrome to harvest user data and block others, and to punish publishers that don’t use its services. 
  • Project Bernanke and Jedi Blue have gotten recent headlines, but Google’s entire ad tech business is built around manipulating ad auction outcomes based on the information it knows from dominating the ecosystem.
  • Google has harvested the most user data through its free consumer facing products, like Chrome, GMail, Maps, etc., and will continue to do so, but it will now block access to data for anyone else – meaning both no other entities can compete in the digital ad market, and publishers are forced to use Google’s services regardless of return.
  • Google’s 90% dominance of the search market gives its total control over referrals to news outlets – so they can require publishers to use Google’s own Accelerated Mobile Pages to rank high on mobile search, reducing ranking returns on desktop search, and more.
  1. We are at a point of no return – if Google’s monopoly in the digital ad market isn’t regulated and reversed, it will push out all competitors and take more revenue from newsrooms, forcing more closures and layoffs in the journalism industry and the collapse of the local news business altogether.