Google’s “Project Bernanke” Favors the Search Engine Giant Over Other Advertisers

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports on new allegations that Google has been giving its own ads an unfair advantage within the Google Display Network.

During a recent anti-trust case, it was alleged that Google has been giving its own ads an unfair advantage within the Google Display Network, using a program called “Project Bernanke.” The Wall Street Journal saw presumably unintentionally unredacted documents before a judge allowed them to refile redacted versions.

The documents detailed how Google used data from past auctions on their platform to create advantages for their own media buying. Part of the complaint within the initial lawsuit also detailed a project code named “Jedi Blue,” which was allegedly a secret deal between Google and Facebook in which the companies agreed that Facebook would curtail competitive moves in return for special treatment in Google’s ad auctions.

Google now stands accused of using publisher data to understand what other advertisers were paying and what they would need to pay in order to achieve specific placements. The concerns with Project Bernanke center around the fact Google is both the ad auction platform, as well as an ad buyer. Some parties are calling out this unfair advantage as insider trading. Ken Paxton is Texas Attorney General:

“Google is a trillion-dollar monopoly brazenly abusing its monopolistic power, going so far as to induce senior Facebook executives to agree to a contractual scheme that undermines the heart of the competitive process. In this advertising monopoly on an electronically traded market, Google is essentially trading on ‘insider information’ by acting as the pitcher, catcher, batter, and umpire, all at the same time. This isn’t the ‘free market’ at work here. This is anti-market and illegal under state and federal law. Google’s monopolization of the display-advertising industry and its misleading business practices stifle innovation, limit consumer choice and reduce competition. Texas and its coalition of allied states bring this action to lift the veil on Google’s secret practices and secure relief to prevent it from engaging in future deceptive and misleading practices.”

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