British newspaper The Guardian announced this morning the start of a partnership with California-based programmatic advertising specialist OpenX, with the ad tech company set to help further monetise The Guardian’s inventory across both its desktop and mobile platforms globally.
The deal will see The Guardian gain access to the OpenX Ad Exchange, and OpenX will also take responsibility as a provider of programmatic direct solutions for inventory on The Guardian’s digital outlets. The Guardian has, unlike many newspapers, kept its online content free to access, funding itself largely by advertising and donations, but this has led to monetary struggles in recent years. It will hope that OpenX’s platform will drive up advertising income, fully monetising the 150 million browsers per month the newspaper’s online content receives as it seeks to break even within two years.
The new partnership comes in the wake of a split between The Guardian and a previous ad tech vendor, The Rubicon Project, due to allegations over The Rubicon Project keeping “secret commissions” for sales of the newspaper’s online inventory. The Guardian is now suing its old partner, saying that The Rubicon Project provided “misleading and inaccurate” monthly reports concerning how much buyers were paying for Guardian inventor. It is seeking to recover the money lost, as well as interest and compensation, according to court filings. Rubicon has denied the charges, stating that the fees it charges are fair, and were disclosed in the contract it signed with The Guardian.
The issue will not be resolved any time soon, with no court date yet set, but The Guardian will be hopeful that its OpenX partnership will help revive its fortunes in the meantime. The Guardian’s programmatic director Daniel Spears was enthusiastic about the agreement, saying “We’re happy to be working with OpenX as part of our overall programmatic strategy to help the best range of media buyers gain access to our premium inventory. We are confident that OpenX will deliver incremental value to both the Guardian and our media partners.”
Jason Fairchild, OpenX co-founder and chief revenue officer, mirrored Mr. Spears’ positivity. “We are excited to be working with one of the world’s top online publishers, and look forward to providing an open and trusting relationship with the Guardian,” he said. “We have had extensive conversations with the Guardian to understand their programmatic aspirations and concerns and we share their deep commitment to quality.”
Mr. Fairchild was keen too to paint OpenX as a trustworthy partner, perhaps in reference to the Rubicon Project lawsuit, saying “We pride ourselves on our transparency and open lines of communication with both the publishers and the advertisers we work with and we have full confidence this partnership will yield significant outcomes.”