The Guardian is preparing to sue adtech firm Rubicon Project

28 Mar 2017  |  David Pidgeon 
The Guardian is preparing to sue adtech firm Rubicon Project

Well this is an interesting development.

Six months after the Guardian revealed it was losing as much as 70 pence in every pound to adtech middlemen, this week the publisher confirmed it is preparing to sue Rubicon Project "for the recovery of non-disclosed buyer fees in relation of Guardian inventory."

The move, confirmed on Tuesday (28 March), should shine some light on the murky world of adtech supply chains, where dozens of players extract fees as an ad moves along the pipes from advertiser to publisher.

Last year the Guardian told Mediatel that a host of adtech businesses are extracting up to 70% of advertisers' money without being able to quantify the value they provide to the brand.

"There's leakage," the Guardian's chief revenue officer, Hamish Nicklin said. "The money that goes in is not the same as the money that goes out.

"There are so many different players taking a little cut here, a little cut there - and sometimes a very big cut. A lot of the money that [advertisers] think they are giving to premium publishers is not actually getting to us."

On Tuesday Rubicon said it disputes the allegation, stating that it charges buyer fees for certain services and that it disclosed that fact both publicly and in the contract it signed with Guardian over a year ago.

"We split our fees between sellers and buyers, reflecting the value we provide to both," Rubicon said.

"Our marketplace fees on transactions support the considerable and compounding costs of performing an open auction - including our extensive brand protection and inventory quality screening, and malware protection. As we add new buyers and sellers onto the platform, the resulting impact is compounding infrastructure costs. Without buyer fees we would need to charge sellers more, and we think our approach is fair."

Rubicon added that it believes the fees it charges "represent value" for its services and are in line with industry practice. It added that the Guardian’s claims "amount to a contract dispute, which we will vigorously contest in court."

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BoWilliams, Partner, Brand Links on 29 Mar 2017
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