Our claim includes applying to bring an opt-out claim on behalf of publishers of websites and mobile apps, and an opt-in claim on behalf of publisher partners at the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, to seek damages for losses caused by Google.
That could include you.
What has happened?
In 2021, Google was fined by the French Competition Authority for abusing its dominant position in relation to ad tech services. It’s possible that all UK-based publishers (and if applicable, their publisher partners) that received revenue from the sale of online display ads since 1st January 2014 have suffered financial loss by Google too.
Who is involved?
Our team is made up of expert competition lawyers, litigators and economists, with Ad Tech Collective Action LLP as the proposed class representative (a partnership with Claudio Pollack, Charles Arthur and Kate Wellington as members with responsibility for managing the claim). The claim is being fully funded so if you own a website or mobile app which sells (or has sold) space for digital ads or if you publish online content on a website or mobile app containing ad units, you won’t have to cover any costs. This is also an “opt-out” claim for publishers (you might think of a publisher as the owner of a website or mobile app), so you don’t need to proactively do anything to make sure you’re involved, except if you are a publisher partner, in which case you will have to opt-in. We welcome all expressions of support if you own a website or mobile app.
What is ad tech?
Simply put, ad tech is the technology powering the online ads that billions of consumers see in their everyday lives, be it on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Digital advertising has experienced spectacular growth, exceeding $490 billion in 2021, so it’s no surprise that selling digital ads has become a key source of revenue for publishers of online content.
Who’s the class representative?
Ad Tech Collective Action LLP is the proposed class representative – a limited liability partnership that has been incorporated to manage the claim against Google. The members of the partnership are Claudio Pollack, Charles Arthur, and Kate Wellington.
Claudio Pollack has spent more than 10 years in Director level roles at Ofcom, he’s experienced in competition, consumer, and small business matters. Charles Arthur has been a leading technology and science journalist and editor for more than 30 years – and during that time, he has written for various national publications, including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Independent. Kate Wellington is a lawyer by background (including in competition litigation matters) and runs the Costs Lawyer Standards Board. Kate also led the campaigning and policy arm of the legal team during her time at Which?
Claudio, Charles, and Kate are championing the cause for UK website owners, or mobile apps, who should have earned more from their ad sales since 1st January 2014.
What has Google done?
Google is the largest and most important ad tech vendor at every step of the value chain, with market shares as high as 90-100%. But after a complaint by news publishers in 2019, the French Competition Authority established that Google had infringed Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union (TFEU). Google had been using practices which ensured that its ad server favoured its own ad exchange, AdX, and vice versa, as well as ensuring that its demand-side platforms, Google Ads and DV360, also favoured AdX.
Why is it wrong?
This is a clear breach of Article 102, which prohibits undertakings in this dominant position from abusing their advantage. According to the decision, Google’s conduct inflicted considerable financial losses to publishers, by depressing their revenue in two different ways.
Google’s actions deprived publishers of the ability to benefit from undistorted competition between ad exchanges, which could have exerted pressure on Google to lower its very high AdX fees, at around 20%.
Google’s conduct also limited competition and prevented publishers from achieving higher prices for their impressions.
Google’s ad tech practices are also under scrutiny in lawsuits and investigations around the world, including ongoing investigations by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the European Commission and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, and lawsuits brought by a coalition of US State Attorneys General and by the US Department of Justice respectively.
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