Facebook and Google CEOs aware of formal ad market deal: court filing

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Washington: COOGLE and Facebook chief executives of Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook of the online advertising market, according to an amended antitrust complaint filed by Texas and 15 other states against Google.

The deal with Facebook, which Google dubbed “Jedi Blue,” was “signed” by Google CEO Sundar Pichai while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was discussing it in an email thread, they said in their third amended complaint.

Google said the claim in the complaint is “not accurate” and that the complaint itself is “riddled with inaccuracies.”

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“WE INTEND TO FILE A MOTION TO DISTIMULATE NEXT WEEK,” said a Google spokesperson.

Facebook, which has since become Meta Platforms Inc, said in a statement that the deal was not unique to Google, and that other deals have increased competition for ad placements. He said what’s best for advertisers, “while publishers are quite compensatory.”

Facebook HAS NOT BEEN NAMED AS A DEFENDANT IN THE LAWSUIT.

The deal was allegedly struck as part of Google’s effort to counter header offers, which publishers wanted to use to make more money from advertising placed on their websites, according to the document.

“Google quickly realized that this innovation substantially threatened its exchange’s ability to demand a very large haircut, 19 to 22 percent, on all ad transactions,” the filing says.

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Its efforts to crack down on header offers included reaching a settlement with Facebook, which had supported header offers, according to the filing.

“Ultimately, Google and Facebook reached an agreement executed at the highest level,” the complaint says. “After the deal, Facebook reduced its share of header offers in exchange for Google giving Facebook data, speed, and other advantages.”

As part of the deal, the two online platforms agreed on how often Facebook would win publishers’ auctions, according to the document.

Google also had other tactics, such as using at least three programs to rig ad auctions to force advertisers and publishers to use Google tools, according to the document.

The Texas lawsuit, which was joined by other states, was filed in 2020 and alleged that Google used coercive tactics and broke antitrust law in its efforts to boost its already dominant ad business.

The document filed Friday is a less redacted version of a second amended complaint, which was originally filed in October 2021.

The lawsuit was one of several that emerged from investigations by the federal government and groups of states on online platforms. (Reporting by Diane Bartz, Elizabeth Culliford, and David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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