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The countdown to Google Ad Tech trials has begun: here's what you need to know

The countdown to Google Ad Tech trials has begun: here's what you need to know


Karina Montoya researches and reports on a wide range of media competition issues and data privacy for the Journalism & Liberty Center, a program of the Open Market Institute in Washington, DC.

Google is set to face a jury trial this year over its monopoly over digital advertising technology. One thing stood out during a pretrial conference presided over by Judge Leonie Brynma in the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Friday, February 23rd. She has made it clear that she does not want to repeat the confusion and gridlock of the trial. The Google search monopoly trial in Washington, D.C., will conclude in November 2023, pending a judge's decision.

During the conference, which set out what to expect before and during the trial, Judge Brinkema required the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google to proactively resolve disputes regarding the posting of exhibits for public record. I urged him to do so. This issue in the Google Search case delayed both the trial and access to public records.I don't want to see the same problem occur [] This trial will not be stopped to resolve this issue [matter]she said.

Brinkema was referring to the time, about a few weeks after the Google search trial in Washington, D.C., when Google challenged the Justice Department's posting of evidence on a government website and the material was removed for a full week. Was. The move caused an uproar among journalists covering the case, observers, and press freedom advocates. The New York Times, supported by other publications, eventually filed a motion asking the court to grant reporters access to the trial exhibits.

Friday's pretrial conference helped clarify Judge Brinkemas' expectations for how the Google Ad Tech trial, which begins Sept. 9, will proceed. It also helped resolve any scheduling conflicts regarding the process leading up to the day.

Google Ad Tech Trial: Overview

The Justice Department has now joined 17 states in suing Google for maintaining an illegal monopoly over digital advertising technology, also known as ad tech. Ad tech products like these form the backbone that connects advertisers and news publishers on the web, powering an industry worth nearly $300 billion in the U.S., and Google is the leading provider of online ad sales, buying and loading tools. I manage most of it.

Ad tech tools fall into three groups: publisher ad servers (for publishers to manage their ad space), ad buying tools (for small and large advertisers to buy ads), and the intersection of the first two: ad exchanges. It is classified as According to the Justice Department's lawsuit, Google, which maintains a dominant position across the ad tech supply chain, has created conflicts of interest through anticompetitive conduct that harms rivals and Google's customers (publishers and advertisers). They are exploiting it for their own profit. For example, they manipulate advertising prices to line their own pockets and squeeze out rivals, or they buy and kill competitors to strengthen their control over this market.

The Justice Department paints a picture of Google's dominance in each product market in the ad tech stack that connects publishers and advertisers. sauce.

As a remedy, the Department of Justice will require Google not only to cease such conduct, but also to limit the scope of its ad tech business for as long as necessary to resolve the conflicts of interest that allow it to maintain its monopoly on this market. They are asking a judge to order the department to be sold. harm fair competition;

What Judge Brinkema expects from the Google ad tech trial The jury trial date cannot be changed. The first order of business at Friday's meeting was to reaffirm the trial date, which Judge Brinkema had already set for September 9th. According to court filings, Google claimed that it intended to request that the trial date be moved up to July 8, 2024, and that the September date was a separate lawsuit with a similar trial date, ARM v. Qualcomm. ) was also in conflict with the lawyer who was in charge. But Judge Brinkema criticized Google for the request, saying it had no intention of changing the September 9 date. I'm sure Google has enough lawyers to resolve this issue. This shouldn't be an insurmountable problem for you, she said. Jury and trial days. Only six jurors are required for civil cases, but Judge Brinkema plans to have 10 jurors for this case. In total, the trial should not exceed her six weeks. In fact, the judge said there was even a possibility that she would sentence from the bench. A typical court day lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jurors will be allowed to take notes. She would not confirm whether jurors would be allowed to ask questions during the trial, but she said she plans to keep an open mind about it.

Given the complexity of the case, Judge Brinkema said he would welcome Google and the Department of Justice to present jurors with a tutorial explaining how the ad tech market works, which jurors will refer to during the trial. He said it could include a glossary. However, Mr. Brinkema warned the parties that he would not waste time resolving disagreements over the content of the tutorial and urged the parties to resolve them in advance.

A pledge to greater transparency. Judge Brinkema also made it clear that he wanted the public to have access to the trial. However, there was no mention of live streams or media broadcasts. Instead, an overflow room will be set up outside the courtroom to broadcast the same version of the Google Search trial in Washington, D.C., she said. Typically, journalists can come and go from these overflow rooms in between reporting sessions.

She also revealed that if a broadcast is needed (assuming there is an overflow room), the courtroom has audio and video capabilities to display only unsealed exhibits presented at trial. Did. If so, this would mark an important difference from the Google search trial in Washington, D.C. The judge held the trial in private throughout the trial because he anticipated that Google would have to disclose sealed confidential information on certain dates. At the time, Google was worried that it wouldn't be able to prevent the leak in court. Justice Brinkemas' statement appears to refer to that indirectly.

What will happen until September? Before a jury trial can begin, the Justice Department and Google must overcome several stages of discovery. The steps include selecting witnesses, sharing evidence, holding hearings on motions to seal/unseal evidence, and agreeing on redacted documents, to name a few. Occur. The parties presented a joint schedule for such a process, but there were disagreements over deadlines for each step.

A new schedule to resolve those differences was announced Friday night. Some important deadlines to keep in mind are April 26th, when parties must file a motion for summary judgment related to his Google and take part or all of the DOJ complaint to trial. It is necessary to request that this is not the case. June 14 is the deadline for oral arguments on summary judgment motions, a critical deadline for the Department of Justice to ensure that all claims are brought to trial. By the end of July, it will be clear what witnesses will take the stand, what other third parties will be removed from testifying, and what parts of such depositions will be made available to the public. It should be.




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