Google is no stranger to lawsuits. This summer, the Department of Justice is wrapping up is year-long investigation into Google’s, potential, violation of Antitrust Laws. Here’s what a Google Antitrust Lawsuit could mean for search, advertising, maps, and your business.
First, What is an Antitrust Lawsuit?
An Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit can be filed by a company, competitor, individual, or, in this case, governing body against another body for violation of federal or state Antitrust laws.
Antitrust laws pertain to how a company regulates and organizes themselves. They also focus on growing fair competition for consumers with the hope of supporting innovation. These laws do a lot of things, such as breaking up monopolies, prevent unfair mergers/acquisitions, and more, with the goal of creating a better marketplace for the consumer.
What does this have to do with Google?
Over the last year, the United States Department of Justice has been building an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Though the final say lays with Attorney General William Barr the suit could go forward, potentially, by the end of the month. They are focusing on Google’s monopoly in search and advertising. The lawsuit may also touch on Google Maps.
What does the Google Antitrust Lawsuit mean for search and advertising?
We can only speculate at this point, however, the outcome of this case could mean a couple of different things:
- A decrease in Google ads across platforms. This would be great for users but bad for advertisers. As a result of this lawsuit, Google may decrease it’s ad placement frequency. Users will love that but that makes the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising landscape more competitive, and potentially, more expensive for advertisers.
- Loss of scalable advertising. Google controls both advertising (think: PPC, keyword costs) and the platforms (YouTube, Search, Maps, etc.). If the Google Antitrust lawsuit is successful and this is broken up advertisers lose access to scalable advertising.
- Paid ad-free searching. Though this doesn’t feel likely to happen, to compensate for the loss of income Google could offer a premium ad-free search option.
- The rise of new advertising platforms. One potential benefit may be the increase in new technologies for scalable advertising. Google is king when it comes to advertising anywhere and everywhere. Breaking up that hold may allow for other companies to offer services that may help with fair-pricing. According to the New York Times Google currently “captures about one-third of every dollar spent on online advertising,” with potentially more players on the market this would change.
- New search parameters for SEO. If Google has to compete more evenly with other search engines, there may be some radical changes to how SEO is done. With Google Algorithm updates moving towards a more natural AI-driven learning and language-use, we may see an increase in the SEO tactics of yester-year that other engines may more easily use.
- The end of Google Maps as we know it. Google Maps has not been just a map in quite some time – now you can order food, make a reservation, read a menu, order an Uber, and more. Annexing Google Maps from Google may mean that it loses access to the user-information that this system thrives on. Though it’s highly unlikely, it still may change how Local SEO is conducted.
Most of Google’s power comes from its ability to gather user-information and tailor its ads and products, which are ubiquitous. By moderating how it gathers information on users and breaking up its main powerhouses (Search, Advertising, and Maps), we may see a radical shift in how Google operates.
The outcome of the Antitrust lawsuit may create more market space for innovation, new digital marketing opportunities, better user experiences, and greater access to affordable advertising. We may also lose scalability, be made to re-optimize content for new engine-parameters, and cater to new premium services.
We’ll know soon if Barr is moving forward with the Google Antitrust case, as they aim to file before the 2020 election.
UPDATE: the DOJ has moved forward with the Google Antitrust Lawsuit. Read the latest here.