Saturday, April 20, 2024

Everything that was redacted in the Texas lawsuit against Google

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That old expression that the second time is a charm may apply in antitrust. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine fellow AGs have dropped a 130-page lawsuit against Google Wednesday is a little more interesting than that of the Ministry of Justice lawsuit filed in October.

As you might have guessed from the number of pages, this one is the size of Texas doozy of successful claims that Google has illegally monopolized every part of the digital advertising market: the ad servers that host the ads, the exchanges where online publishers sell space for the ads, the networks where the advertisers list the ads and the tools that everyone uses to help them manage the complex system in real time.

Sadly and oddly, the Texas complaint is riddled with redactions, those blackened lines of text that are typically used to protect the public’s proprietary or confidential information. Here, every internal Google email, memo, code name, joke code name, and quote is redacted. For example:

In a few places, the Auditor General’s complaint even obscures his own legal reasoning. And at least twice, something is redacted in one part of the complaint and then revealed in a later part.

So for your education, for your edification, and for your general amusement on a snowy day here in Boston, here is the gist of Texas AG’s antitrust case against Google based on many redacted texts:

  • Google’s percentage share of the digital advertising market
  • Number of ads processed by Google’s ad servers per day
  • The reduction of every advertising sale that Google collects
  • Something a Google executive “frankly conceded” about the design of the Google ad exchange
  • The real design goal of Google’s advertising tool for small websites
  • Google’s commission rate on ads from small advertisers
  • The percentage of time that customers using Google’s advertising tools spend buying or selling ads from Google’s advertising platform
  • Something Google Told the FTC in 2008 About Its Ad Server
  • Google estimate of the percentage of online publishers using its ad server
  • Google’s description of publishers’ difficulties switching to competing ad servers
  • The name of the team at Google’s New York office that designed a program called RPO to make ad auctions less competitive
  • The name of one of Google’s bid-rigging programs
  • A screenshot of said bid-rigging program
  • Something Google employees discussed in a meeting on October 13, 2016
  • The code name of a program developed by Google to compete with a technique developed by the publisher called header bidding
  • A Google Slideshow on the Pain Caused by Facebook’s Header Auction Support
  • Internal presentation of October 5, 2016 to senior Google executives on Facebook and header auctions
  • Something Facebook Vice President Dan Rose told Mark Zuckerberg in an email about Google and header auctions
  • Details of a deal Facebook and Google struck in 2018, purportedly to lower header bids
  • the Star wars character used by Google as the internal code name for the agreement
  • A word that appears 20 times in this chord
  • How Google’s mobile format, AMP, hurts publishers
  • Google’s strategy to retain YouTube ad inventory from competing advertising tools
  • Google name for a restricted data set that combines information from its search ads, YouTube ads, and display ads
  • Google’s name for its ad price arbitrage system
  • The name of Google’s future project to transform the entire web into a walled garden it controls
  • A summary document of the walled garden plan

It is more than likely that this trial will be consolidated with that of the DoJ (and all subsequent trials to come), or all will be tried by a common judge. And maybe this judge will order some of those redactions removed. A journalist can hope! Have a great day and if you are on the East Coast enjoy the snow.

Aaron Pressman


In this week’s episode of our Brainstorm Tech podcast, Michal Lev-Ram talks to Lise Buyer of the Class V group about non-traditional methods of going public: PSPCs and the auction model. Both are growing in popularity; The buyer explains why. Next, Brian O’Keefe chats with Threshold Ventures Emily Melton about what the rush to go public looks like in the VC world and what trends she has seen that will continue through 2021. Listen to the episode here.


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