Texas thinks it might have an advantage in its antitrust lawsuit against Google. MLex and the the Wall Street newspaper found unredacted court documents showing that Google ran a program, Project Bernanke, that allegedly gave its ad buying system an edge over its competitors. The internet giant used data from publishers’ ad servers to guide advertisers on the price they should pay for ad placements, but didn’t tell publishers who were selling those ads. It amounted to insider trading, Texas said, because it could use proprietary information to undermine competing ad-buying systems and pay publishers less.
An internal presentation from 2013 showed that the Bernanke project was expected to earn $ 230 million that year. Texas saw this as proof that Google was capitalizing on its advantage.
Google acknowledged Bernanke’s existence in court documents, but said he had done nothing wrong. The information was “comparable” to what you’ll find with other ad buying tools, according to the company. A spokesperson told the WSJ that the Texas complaint “distorts” much of its advertising activity and that it intended to challenge the state in court. He underscored the determination of a UK regulator that there was no benefit.
Regardless of the correct interpretation, the court record shows how Texas intends to pursue its antitrust case – it is confident Google was making behind-the-scenes arrangements, like a report “darling deal” with Facebook, to give itself an unfair advantage over the competition. The state might have a strong case if the court agreed with the basic premise, but it would be in big trouble if there was a difference of opinion.