REACTION: Save Journalism Project on Warren’s call to investigate Google’s ad-buying

Today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to investigate Google for practices giving the company’s own ad-buying system an unfair advantage over competitors. Sen. Warren wrote a letter to CFTC acting chairman Rostin Behnam, calling specifically for a close examination of “Project Bernanke,” a secret program leveraging data from past bids. 

As more details leak out about Google’s monopolistic digital ad practices, it’s clear we’re at a tipping point. As Sen. Warren noted on Twitter

“The @CFTC should investigate Project Bernanke, Google’s scheme to use rival ad buyers’ ad exchange bidding data to give its own ad-buying system a competitive advantage. Google should not be able to unilaterally manipulate the online advertising market.”

Through manipulation of the online advertising market, Google is forcing publishers to adhere to their terms in order to maximize revenue, leaving journalists vulnerable to layoffs and reduced funding – threatening the collapse of local news altogether. Google has long abused its 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. Google’s own study shows that eliminating third-party cookies reduces ad revenue for news publishers by an average of 62%.

Here’s a quote from Laura Bassett, co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, “Journalists have suffered while Google has tried to make as much money as they possibly can.  I’m glad Senator Warren is pushing for accountability, and I hope that regulators investigate what they’ve done to the system that funds a strong and independent press. With newsrooms shuttering around the country due to Big Tech’s dominance, we cannot afford to let these exploitative practices continue.”