By Erika Mathieu
The small weekly newspaper, the Crowsnest Pass Herald, is suing tech giants Google and Meta, formerly Facebook, for damages amounting to $1 billion. On March 16, Sotos Class Actions of Toronto issued a statement of claim against Google and Facebook on behalf of the Crowsnest Pass Herald. The paper is alleging the companies are in breach of the Competition Act as detailed in a 32-page document. The claim also alleges Google and Meta entered into an agreement together which resulted in substantial losses in revenue for digital publishers after the two companies joined forces to put an end to a process between advertisers and publishers known as “header bidding”, and subsequently enacted an agreement which mutually benefitted both tech companies, and excluded digital publishers.
The Crowsnest Pass Herald, like many digital publishers, sells impressions, or digital ad space on their websites. Most publishers use google’s publisher-facing servers to coordinate selling these impressions, and according to the lawsuit, 90 per cent of digital display ads pass through google’s publisher-facing server. Similarly, most advertisers use an advertising-facing server owned by Google to coordinate buying impressions. What exists in the middle is a space where the transaction takes place between the publisher and advertiser services and involves a process, which neither the publisher nor the advertiser is typically privy to.
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