Google to face £14bn class action over ‘vice-like grip’ on UK advertising

Google will be facing a £13.6 billion ($17.4 billion) class action lawsuit following its “vice-like grip” on online UK advertising, Britain’s antitrust tribunal has ruled today.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has given the green light for the Ad Tech Collective Action to bring proceedings against the tech giant for its alleged manipulation of the online advertising market.

The claims allege that Google and parent company Alphabet have abused their dominant position within the advertising sector to unfairly hinder competitors, leading to significant financial losses for publishers.

Ad Tech Collective Action was created specifically to represent the more than 200,000 website publishers who claim the tech firm’s anti-competitive practices have caused them to lose out on hundreds of thousands of pounds over the past decade.

The collective argued that serious issues of abuse of market dominance meant the case “more than meets the requirements” for a class proceedings order.

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According to reports in CDR News, the anti-competitive behaviour includes “dictating terms, controlling pricing” and “favouring its own platforms” when selecting ads to display online. The lawsuit claims publishers have lost as much as 40% of their advertising revenue.

“These proceedings constitute an exceedingly important part of the economy, where Google has a vice-like grip on the market,” said Robert O’Donoghue KC, of Brick Court Chambers, representing the collective.

“This case involves hundreds of billions of ad-spend on a global level.”

O’Donoghue also said Ad Tech was “frankly flabbergasted” that Google had claimed its impact on the industry was “hugely pro-competitive”.

“Every regulator and court profoundly disagrees, and no regulator has blessed its practices or even deemed them innocuous.”

Google rejected the allegations but Judge Marcus Smith, who presiding over the case, rejected the tech firm’s argument that the claimants’ case was not sufficiently pleaded.

The claim will now proceed to a full trial, although it is unlikely to take place until 2025.

Innovation and TechNews

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