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European Media Groups Sue Google for €2.1 Billion Over Ad Market Practices

 |  February 28, 2024

Alphabet’s Google finds itself embroiled in a 2.1-billion-euro lawsuit filed by 32 media groups, including notable entities like Axel Springer and Schibsted. The lawsuit, announced on Wednesday, alleges that Google’s practices in digital advertising have led to substantial losses for these media organizations.

The consortium of publishers hails from across Europe, representing countries such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. According to Reuters, their grievance stems from what they perceive as Google’s monopolistic behavior in the digital advertising market.

A statement issued by the legal representatives of the media groups, Geradin Partners and Stek, emphasized the adverse impact of Google’s actions on market competitiveness. The lawyers asserted, “The media companies involved have incurred losses due to a less competitive market, which is a direct result of Google’s misconduct.”

According to the legal team, the alleged misconduct has deprived media companies of higher revenues from advertising and subjected them to higher fees for ad tech services. They argue that these financial losses could have been redirected towards fortifying the European media landscape, thereby fostering greater diversity and resilience.

Related: Google Appeals €2.4B Antitrust Fine At Top EU Court

The legal challenge references previous regulatory actions against Google’s ad tech practices. Specifically, they cite the 220-million-euro fine imposed by the French competition authority in 2021 and the European Commission’s ongoing antitrust charges as evidence supporting their claims.

Google, on its part, has consistently defended its ad tech business against regulatory scrutiny. Last year, the tech giant expressed disagreement with EU antitrust charges related to its involvement in both the buy-side and sell-side of the advertising supply chain.

The backdrop against which this lawsuit unfolds underscores a broader global concern regarding the dominance of Big Tech companies in the advertising sector. With Google reigning as the foremost digital advertising platform globally, publishers worldwide have grappled with diminishing shares of advertising revenues.

The choice to file the lawsuit in a Dutch court reflects a strategic decision by the media groups. They aim to leverage the Netherlands’ reputation as a pivotal jurisdiction for antitrust damages claims within Europe, while also seeking to consolidate their legal efforts to avoid fragmented proceedings across different European countries.

Among the diverse array of publishers joining the legal action are Austria’s Krone, Belgian groups DPG Media and Mediahuis, Denmark’s TV2 Danmark A/S, Finland’s Sanoma, Poland’s Agora, Spain’s Prensa Iberica, and Switzerland’s Ringier.

Source: Reuters