The Guardian Is Suing Rubicon Project; AppNexus Continues With Its IPO Pursuit

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Publisher Plaintiff

The Guardian is suing Rubicon Project for not disclosing fees it charged advertisers on programmatic buys, Lara O’Reilly reports for Business Insider. While The Guardian takes its claim to High Court with hopes of a refund in the “single-digit millions,” Rubicon maintains the fees it took were disclosed in its contract with The Guardian as well as in its SEC filing. “We charge buyer fees for certain services we provide and have disclosed that fact publicly, including in our SEC filings, and in client contracts, including a contract we signed with Guardian over a year ago,” Rubicon said in a statement. “The Guardian’s claims amount to a contract dispute, which we will vigorously contest in court.” More. Related in AdExchanger: How programmatic exchanges can manipulate fees in second-price auctions.

AppNexus IPO: On Again

The AppNexus IPO is apparently full steam ahead after the company pursued a “dual-track process,” in which it simultaneously explored a sale and a public offering, Bloomberg reports. After haggling with some potential acquirers, the company was not satisfied with its options. The details are part of a Bloomberg analysis finding IPOs are gaining steam. “For both closely held and public companies, the story’s the same: suitors are making takeover offers, but the targets don’t think the checks are big enough. At the moment, their faith is in the public markets, where they are betting valuations will be more generous over time than what an acquirer would be willing to pay.” Read it.

Sweet Leverage

Upfront season is around the corner, and broadcast networks are planning to tout their brand-safe environments in a bid for ad dollars that have been pulled from YouTube. “We would be foolish not to lean into that in some way,” Bill Abbott, CEO of Hallmark Channel’s parent company Crown Media, told The Wall Street Journal. Upfronts usually don’t begin until later in the spring, but some networks, like Viacom, are moving up their meetings with ad buyers to take advantage of Google’s weak position. Some analysts predict that Google’s YouTube woes will be a boon for linear TV networks, but Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser predicts prime-time ad spend on linear TV will fall 2%-3% this year. “I don’t think it will have any meaningful benefit [for TV] but we will hear plenty of noise about the problems in digital,” he said. More at WSJ. Meanwhile, Wall Street’s initial scare over the Google controversy seems to be waning. More at Forbes.

Executive Action

Fox hasn’t named an ad sales chief since Toby Byrne left the network last September, and the market wants to know what’s up. “Rather than a sales chief who can just get the most money for a 30-second spot, Fox is likely seeking a person with a mix of skills: someone who can solve problems for its parent 21st Century Fox, improve the consumer experience and deliver brand solutions,” writes Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi. Major buyers like Rino Scanzoni, CEO of GroupM’s addressable TV unit Modi Media, say, “If someone isn’t in that role it creates uncertainty.” Fox, ABC and Viacom all lost ad sales chiefs last year [AdExchanger coverage], and all were runners-up to Linda Yaccarino’s consolidated NBCU offering. “In the middle of an upfront negotiation you need to know who you can go to who has that final say,” says David Campanelli, who oversees Horizon Media’s video investments. More.  

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