Google Finally Defends Its Partnership With Facebook For An Ad-Buying Arrangement In Public

Just when the blames were getting more and more serious, Google has finally come out in their defense by denying all the claims of partnering up with Facebook for any anticompetitive ad-buying plans.

In response to the lawsuit filed by a group of attorney generals, which of course was led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, Google released a blog post in which the company’s director of economic policy Adam Cohen called out all the claims as misleading. It is the most detailed response given by Google for any lawsuit as the company is also currently dealing with two other complaints; one from a bipartisan group of attorneys general and the other has come from the Justice Department.

The statement had citings from the New York Times article which was based on the similar alleged partnership and also the unredacted draft of the complaint. However, it was The Wall Street Journal that first reported about the unredacted draft back in December of last year.

Going through the version of the complaint that the Times reported, an executive from Google stated that the company saw the “existential threat” coming when Facebook decided to enter into the advertisements territory in 2017. Facebook at that time too was looking for a project in header bidding which is basically a form of ad buying arrangement that was supposed to let publishers become free from the dependence on Google’s platforms.

But with all the promises, the project never got to see the daylight as both the tech giants signed an agreement in 2018 in which Facebook decided to partner up with Google for the Open Bidding project. This allowed the company to compete for ad exchanges on its own but they now also had a share in the winning bids. Overall, the agreement was also nothing like the ones made with other partners in the alliance - as stated by the members who got interviewed by the Times (their names were hidden to keep the relationship safe with Google).

Hence, there were also allegations like Google allowing more time to Facebook for bidding for ads as compared to the other members of the alliance. Besides that, there were also reports by the Times that Google even went one step ahead by offering Facebook more insights into who will actually receive the ads and a “win rate” guaranteed as well. The documents were proving that the two will “cooperate and assist” each other to eliminate the competition.

Cohen with the blog spot has turned down any such allegations by informing the concerned authorities and consumers that Open Bidding is a tool that benefits publishers more than anyone else in the process. In fact, it assists in dealing with the problems of header bidding which includes things like slow-loading pages. Moreover, as per Cohen, the header bidding is still a growing market, (which has also been stated in the 2019 eMarketer report) and the company continuously works on ways to thrive in it.

So, precisely Google’s agreement with Facebook is only supposed to help advertisers for participating in Open Bidding.

Cohen has openly stated that the company doesn’t manipulate auctions to favor Facebook. As the agreement doesn’t stop Facebook from using the header bidding, they would still be required by the advertising network of Google to make the highest bid in order to win. Furthermore, he also thinks that Google’s fees for advertisers are also lower than the industry average so competition will always continue to exist in the space.

On the other hand, a spokesperson from Facebook also said that such partnerships are very common and the company holds a lot of them. This helps Facebook in increasing the competition related to ad auctions and also creates the best outcomes for advertisers and publishers. So, anything contrary to that is baseless.

Facebook too has to deal with complaints from the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys generals belonging to 48 states and territories which is based on the claim that the company has violated the anti-monopoly law again.

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket / Getty

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