Dutch publishers launch mass claim against Google over ads

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch and British publishers have launched a €25 billion damages claim against Google, based on what they called the company’s anti-competitive conduct in relation to advertising technology.

The Dutch claim is open to publishers from all over the EU and uses Dutch legislation which makes it easier to submit and finance mass claims. The British claim is separate and targets British publishing houses.

‘At a time when many media organisations struggled to pay journalists’ wages, Google deprived them of billions in revenue through anti-competitive conduct,’ Brussels law firm Geradin Partners, which is coordinating the cases, said in a statement.

‘For many publishers it would be too expensive to sue a gigantic company like Google. Without this action, these damages would go unaddressed.’

In 2021, the French competition authority imposed a fine of €220 million on Google in relation to its conduct in ad tech – the name given to technologies powering the online adverts billions of consumers see when surfing the web and using their smartphones.

Two large Dutch publishers have joined the process so far, the Financieele Dagblad reported. Although they have not been named, the FD says they are likely to be DPG and Mediahuis, which own all the Dutch daily papers apart from the FD.

Both publishing groups use Google’s digital advertising system, which has largely replaced direct sales.

Google told the FD in a reaction that it had a constructive relationship with publishers and that it regarded the law case as ‘speculative and opportunistic’.  ‘We will strongly defend ourselves,’ a spokesman told the paper.

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