Google manipulated the advertising market before pocketing the money and giving it to publishers who gave the company privileged access, it has been claimed in a bombshell lawsuit, Daily Mail reported.
The damning allegations in a lawsuit in Texas accuse the search giant of running a digital advertising monopoly that has increased costs for advertisers and hurt competitors and publishers in the advertising industry, according to the report.
It was met with fury across the media industry, with one publisher calling the system “totally dishonest” and a “betrayal” of advertisers, including countless small businesses battling the pandemic.
The company launched a secret program called Project Bernanke in 2013 that allegedly rigged the market by dropping the second-highest bids from publishers’ ad auctions, according to the report.
He used historical Google ad data to adjust his clients’ bids for online advertising and increase their chances of winning auctions for impressions.
This would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the company, much of it coming from small business advertisers.
The claims emerged in documents filed in Texas in an antitrust lawsuit that accuses the company of exercising a monopoly in the digital advertising market.
And the results suggest that Google is more dominant than previously thought, and it has maintained its dominance by misleading publishers and manipulating auctions, according to the report.
Google would then have pooled the money taken from this system before allocating it to publishers who gave it privileged access, including those who only used Google advertisements.
It would have given Google and its bidders an unfair advantage and helped them win auctions they would have lost, costing publishers up to 40% of revenue, Daily Mail reported.
The California-based firm is believed to have generated nearly £270m a year from the Bernanke project – named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, for unknown reasons.
A major publisher said: “We suspected Google was running a rigged game, but we never imagined they could be so utterly dishonest to both their publisher partners and their advertising clients.”
“This is a staggering breach of trust and business ethics and has cost publishers and advertisers hundreds of millions of dollars, including all the small family and pop shops that have battled the pandemic,” indicates the report.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)