Press release

European news media file €2.1 billion ad tech claim against Google

Brussels (Belgium) and Amsterdam (the Netherlands), 28 February 2024

Today, a coalition of more than 30 European media organisations from 17 countries has initiated a legal action against Google, seeking damages of around EUR 2.1 billion. The claim pertains to Google’s anticompetitive behaviour in “ad tech”, the various technologies behind online advertising. The lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Google’s abuses have been noted and documented by several European authorities. In 2021, the French competition authority found that Google had abused its dominant position in ad tech by favouring its own tools over those of its competitors, to the detriment of website publishers. In 2023, the European Commission issued a statement of objections in relation to the same conduct, which is also at the centre of significant legal challenges brought by the State Attorneys General and the Department of Justice in the USA.

The European media organisations have decided to consolidate their claims for compensation against one of the largest global corporations, which has for many years exploited its dominant position in the market. The coalition has chosen to file a lawsuit against Google in the Netherlands, a key jurisdiction for antitrust damages claims in Europe. This centralised approach eliminates the necessity for multiple claims in different European countries, with the risk of inconsistencies and spiralling costs.

The media companies involved have incurred losses due to a less competitive market, which is a direct result of Google’s misconduct. Without Google’s abuse of its dominant position, the media companies would have received significantly higher revenues from advertising and paid lower fees for ad tech services. Crucially, these funds could have been reinvested into strengthening the European media landscape.

The coalition of media companies operates in 17 European countries and includes some of Europe’s biggest news media outlets as well as many smaller regional papers.

The case is brought by European law firm Geradin Partners (Brussels, London, Amsterdam) and Amsterdam-based firm Stek.

Damien Geradin, founding partner of Geradin Partners said: “We are proud to represent more than 30 publishers in bringing this claim. Enough time has been spent getting to the heart of Google’s wrongdoing in ad tech which is now plain for all to see. It is high time that Google is held accountable for its abuses and compensates the victims, Europe’s diverse and vital media sector.

Jan Bart van de Hel, partner at Stek in Amsterdam said: “Many publishers have suffered harm from Google’s wrongful actions. It is important to take action, not only to make sure that the damages of the publishers are fully compensated, but also to ensure that Google’s anticompetitive conduct is prevented in the future. We are happy that more than 30 large media companies have decided to take action. Others should do the same.