Arvind Hickman
Apr 4, 2023

Google sued for £3.4bn over lost publisher ad revenues

It is the second claim filed on behalf of UK publishers in six months.

Google sued for £3.4bn over lost publisher ad revenues

Google is facing a second lawsuit for lost advertising revenue in a class action on behalf of publishers, according to media reports.

The claim, by former Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur, is seeking compensation of up to £3.4bn on lost advertising revenues on behalf of UK publishers.

Arthur claims Google abused its dominance in the online advertising market, causing the prices of its adtech services to be inflated and the ad revenues publishers could earn to be unlawfully reduced.

Google told the BBC it would fight the "speculative and opportunistic" action, there are many competitors in the adtech industry, and that its advertising tools "help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers".

A Google spokesperson told Campaign: “Google works constructively with publishers across the UK and Europe – our advertising tools, and those of our many adtech competitors, help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers.

"These services adapt and evolve in partnership with those same publishers. This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. We'll fight it vigorously.” 

Arthur’s case, which was also reported by Press Gazette, follows a similar one brought by the former Ofcom director Claudio Pollack in November, which alleges Google’s “dominance and abuse” of the online advertising market has reduced the ad revenue UK publishers receive by up to 40% since 2014. That claim is seeking £13.6bn in damages.

Both are “collective claims” with an opt-out clause, which means all publishers considered relevant will be represented when the court, the Competition Appeal Tribunal, determines who will be the class representative.

Google is being investigated by the UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), about its dominance of the UK online advertising market.

The CMA has found that Google is the largest provider in three key areas of adtech, but Arthur claims the CMA does not have the power to make Google compensate publishers for lost advertising revenue.

The UK lawsuits follow other cases in the US and France for Google’s dominance and anti-competitive behaviour. In 2021 the French competition regulator fined Google €220m for favouring its own services in the online advertising sector. 

Campaign UK

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