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Google Top Secret Ad-Buying System ‘Project Bernanke’ Revealed In Court Documents

Google has been accused of running a top secret project that used information obtained from past advertising bids to benefit its own ad-purchasing system, giving the company an unfair advantage over competitors, and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

The project, codenamed ‘Project Bernanke’ was featured in documents filed this week in a Texan antitrust lawsuit, which alleges Google operates a digital advertising monopoly.

Project Bernanke came to light after Google accidentally filed unredacted documents that reveal the project name, and that “the details of Project Bernanke’s operations are not disclosed to publishers.” The documents, which have since been redacted and refiled, were viewed by the Wall Street Journal.

In the initial filing, Google claimed this was “comparable to data maintained by other buying tools.”

Peter Schottenfels, a spokesperson for Google, alleges the lawsuit “misrepresents many aspects of our ad tech business,” adding: “We look forward to making our case in court.”

The antitrust lawsuit was initially filed in December, and questions Google’s role as operator of an ad exchange, a representative of both advertising sellers and buyers, and as an advertiser in its own right. These various positions within the marketplace are at odds  with fair trading laws, the lawsuit alleges, suggesting the use of Project Bernanke is a form of insider trading, where exclusive information is used to unlawfully compete.