Did Google Throttle Page Speeds?

A recent complaint against Google recently had its details unredacted. If true, sections of this complaint could damage its trust with publishers. The search engine goliath’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were meant to improve mobile web performance. The allegation claims that it was a scheme to pressure companies into using the format. The allegation claims that competing header bidding was suppressed instead. Or more simply, if the company had, in malicious nature, had enacted routines to throttle page speeds of competitors.

What is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is an advertising method that is in direct competition with Google. It is also called advance bidding and pre-bidding. This lets publishers offer ad space to several SSPs and Ad Exchanges simultaneously. It’s a competitive model that allows publishers greater control and higher yield. It does need a bit more infrastructure cost than Google’s service, though.

Header bidding also requires publishers to use JavaScript to trigger the bidding. As you might know, AMP doesn’t support the JavaScript used in header bidding. Nevertheless, publishers have responded favorably to header bidding, citing transparency and higher revenue potential. The allegation claims that Google created AMP in response to header bidding. This is a claim Google denies. Instead, Google says their engineers worked with publishers to increase load speed.

What is Google accused of?

The complaint is being made on behalf of 16 states, led by the State of Texas. It even claims that Google throttled the loading speed of pages that don’t use AMP. According to the allegation, Google would have done this to give AMP a “nice comparative boost.” Instead, the complaint says that throttling non-AMP pages slow down header bidding. Google then uses the slow page speeds it created to claim header bidding is a slow service… This is despite some publishers reporting a decrease in latency.

The antitrust allegation states that Google’s employees struggled to justify the policy. According to the allegation, they wondered how to ‘justify [Google] making something slower.’ The lawsuit was originally filed on September 9th but had heavy redaction. However, in October, a Manhattan judge ruled that the document must be re-released, with far less redaction.

Publishers have certainly had a love/hate relationship with AMP since its introduction. However, we enjoy a better mobile experience by sacrificing control over our content. We also have a greater chance of appearing in the Top Stories, which generates a lot of traffic. However, it can be hard to track.

Earlier this year, Google ended its requirement for publishers to use AMP to qualify for Top Story placement.

The Takeaway, Did Google Throttle Page Speeds?

Google is at the center of a lawsuit alleging that the company throttled a competing advertising method, among other things. The lawsuit, while very political, alleges several abusive policies by Google. It also claims that the tech giant conspired with another massive company, Facebook. This claim involves Google allegedly giving Facebook an edge in ad space auctions.

This all raises serious concerns about the search giant, but time will tell the validity of these claims or if there will be any consequences for it. If they turn out to be true, it’s hard to imagine publishers trusting Google for much longer. If you’d like to see more content like this, pursue through Emu Web Marketing for more relevant news.