A recent Texas antitrust lawsuit has reportedly revealed that for years, Google operated a secret program called “Project Bernanke” that used data from past bids in the company’s digital advertising exchange to allegedly give its own ad-buying business an advantage over competitors.
The Wall Street Journal reports that according to court documents filed in a Texas antitrust lawsuit, Google for years operated a secret program that used data from pat bids in the company’s digital advertising exchange to give its own ad-buying system an advantage over competitors.
The secret operation known as “Project Bernanke” was not disclosed to publishers who sold ads through Google’s ad-buying systems. The project generated hundred of millions of dollars in revenue for the company every year according to the documents.
In its lawsuit, Texas claims that the project gave Google an unfair competitive advantage over rivals. The document was filed this week as part of Google’s initial response to the Texas-led antitrust lawsuit that was filed in December and accused Google of running a digital-ad monopoly, harming both ad-industry competitors and publishers.
The filing was examined by the Wall Street Journal and was not properly redacted when initially uploaded to the court’s public docket. Google has since been allowed to refile the documents under seal.
Part of the lawsuit involved the examination of Google’s roles as both the major operator of an ad exchange and a representative of buyers and sellers on the exchange. Google also acts as an ad buyer in its own right, selling ads on its own properties such as search and YouTube through the same systems.
Texas is claiming that Google used its access to data from publishers’ ad servers to guide advertisers toward the price they would have to bid in order to secure an ad placement. Texas alleges that Google’s use of bidding information amounted to insider trading in digital-ad markets.
The state claims that because Google had exclusive information about what other ad buyers were willing to pay, it could unfairly compete against rival ad-buying tools and pay publishers less on winning bids.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org