Google is in hot water again after it unwittingly confirmed suspicions that it used its dominant position in the display ad market to give preference to itself and its clients in a program known as “Project Bernanke.” This confirms the very suspicions at the heart of the Texas-led antitrust suit that was filed against the tech giant in December. Over the weekend, Google accidentally filed several unredacted court documents in response to the suit, which were viewed by The Wall Street Journal before being refiled with redactions.
Here’s a breakdown of the findings:
The filing certainly gives a lot more credibility to the Texas-led suit’s allegations, but it’s uncertain just how badly the suit will hurt Google. That’s because the tech giant already appears to be limiting its off-property display business, likely in preparation for the changes the government could impose on it. Its decision to stop supporting third-party cookies on Chrome, for example, will decrease the amount of data available to base ad buys on, making its display business less valuable. Google may be preemptively making these changes to please antitrust regulators and fend off unwanted changes to its search ad business, which pulls in more than double the revenues brought in by its display business, according to Nicole Perrin, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. We already expect Google’s share of the display market to decline over the next few years as competitors like Amazon and streaming services grow more powerful—and it’s certain to suffer even more from this, whether from voluntary pullback or government action.
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