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Google Accused of Secret Program Giving Them an Unfair Advantage in Ad-Buying

Sunday April 11, 2021. 11:47 PM , from Slashdot
Google 'has utilized a secret program to track bids on its ad-buying platform,' writes the New York Post, 'and has been accused of using the information to gain an unfair market advantage that raked in hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to a report.'

The initiative — dubbed 'Project Bernanke' in an apparent reference to former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke — was detailed in court filings in an ongoing Texas-led antitrust suit, which were initially uploaded to an online docket with incomplete redactions, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday... Lawyers for the Lone Star State argue, however, that the program was tantamount to insider trading, particularly when combined with Google's complicated, multi-layered role in the online advertising marketplace.

The company operates simultaneously as the operator of a major ad exchange, a representative of both buyers and sellers on the exchange — and a buyer in its own right, according to the suit. By using Project Bernanke's inside information on what other ad buyers were willing to pay for space, Google could tailor its operations to beat out rivals and bid the bare minimum to secure ad inventory, the state reportedly alleges...

Separately, the filings reveal more details about Jedi Blue — an alleged hush-hush deal in which Google allegedly guaranteed that Facebook would win a fixed percentage of advertising deals in which the social media giant bid... Google also admitted that the deal required Facebook to spend $500 million or more in Google's Ad Manager or AdMob bids in the pact's fourth year, and that Facebook agreed to make efforts to win 10 percent of the auctions in which it competed, the WSJ said.

The arrangement appeared 'to allow Facebook to bid and win more often in auctions,' lawyers for Texas alleged in their filings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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