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Gannett files federal lawsuit against Google

Lawsuit by publisher of USA TODAY and over 200 local publications alleges digital advertising practices violate U.S. antitrust and consumer-protection laws

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NEW YORK, NY — Gannett Co., Inc., the largest publisher in the United States including USA TODAY and over 200 local publications, today filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Google for monopolization of advertising technology markets and deceptive commercial practices. The lawsuit seeks to restore competition in the digital advertising marketplace and end Google’s monopoly, which will encourage investment in newsrooms and news content throughout the country.

As more Americans read the news online, publishers depend on digital advertising revenue to provide timely, cutting-edge reporting and content that communities across the country rely on. Google’s practices have depressed revenue and impacted local newsrooms adversely by monopolizing the markets for important software and technology products that publishers and advertisers use to buy and sell ad space.

Google controls 90% of the market for “publisher ad servers,” which publishers use to offer ad space for sale. Google also controls over 60% of the market for “ad exchanges,” which run auctions among advertisers bidding for ad space on publishers’ websites.

Google controls the largest source of advertisers bidding on exchanges. For Gannett, 60% of all buyers come through Google. The result is Google unfairly controlling selling, buying and the exchange that matches sellers and buyers — and manipulating all aspects of online advertising transactions.

Michael Reed

“Google has monopolized market trading to their advantage and at the expense of publishers, readers and everyone else. Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the online economy. Without free and fair competition for digital ad space, publishers cannot invest in their newsrooms,” said Michael Reed, Gannett chairman and chief executive officer. “For more than a hundred years, Gannett has been a tireless advocate for freedom of the press empowering communities to thrive. This lawsuit seeks to ensure we can continue our mission for hundreds of years more.”

In 2022, Google made upwards of $30 billion in revenue from the sale of ad space on publishers’ websites which was six times the digital advertising revenue of all U.S. news publications, combined.

In December 2020, a bipartisan group of 17 State Attorneys General filed a lawsuit against Google raising similar allegations of ad-tech monopolization. The U.S. Department of Justice, joined by a bipartisan coalition of 17 additional States, filed its own ad-tech lawsuit against Google earlier this year. Both lawsuits have withstood Google’s best efforts to get the cases dismissed. And, last week, the European Union’s competition authority filed a related adtech case based on the same underlying conduct. The DOJ and EU are rightly seeking a breakup of Google’s ad-tech business, in addition to monetary damages and fines.

The full text of the complaint can be found here and additional information here as well as Mike Reed’s Opinion Editorial in USA TODAY here.

Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers, said this of the lawsuit: “Gannett’s legal pursuit of addressing the imbalance in the digital marketplace is a good move. The monopolistic actions in the digital marketplace have stifled the news industry for years and it is past time to address this issue that has decimated local ad revenue.”

About Gannett:

Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is a subscription-led and digitally-focused media and marketing solutions company committed to empowering communities to thrive. With an unmatched reach at the national and local level, Gannett touches the lives of millions with our Pulitzer Prize-winning content, consumer experiences and benefits, and advertiser products and services. Our current portfolio of media assets includes USA TODAY, local media organizations in 43 states in the U.S., and Newsquest, a wholly owned subsidiary operating in the United Kingdom with more than 150 local news media brands. Gannett also owns digital marketing services companies branded LocaliQ, and runs one of the largest media-owned events business in the U.S., USA TODAY NETWORK Ventures. To connect with us, visit www.gannett.com.

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