The Guardian is to sue Rubicon Project, a sell-side ad technology company, for failing to disclose fees they charged advertisers. The disputed figure is believed to be in the single digital millions according to Business Insider, but Rubicon Project insist that it made not attempt to conceal the charges. In a statement provided to VAN the company said, “We charge buyer fees for certain services we provide and have disclosed that fact publicly, including in our SEC filings, and in client contracts, including a contract we signed with Guardian over a year ago. We split our fees between sellers and buyers, reflecting the value we provide to both.”
The statement continued, “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 Project connects more than 500,000 advertisers, hundreds of DSPs, more than 1 million websites and 20,000 mobile applications. We believe that the aggregate fees we charge represent the value for our services and are in line with industry practice. The Guardian’s claims amount to a contract dispute, which we will vigorously contest in court.”
As Mediatel reported last year, The Guardian discovered that on some occasions it was only receiving 30 pence out of every pound spent on media as various intermediaries took a slice of the spend.
The news of the legal dispute is something of a baptism of fire for new CEO Michael Barrett who joined only a week ago. Various industry insiders speculating that he has been brought in to ensure the company is quickly sold. If The Guardian is successful in its claim and other publishers follow suit, that job might become considerably more difficult.