Criteo has once again strongly denied claims its platform is riddled with suspicious advertising, describing them as unsubstantiated and false while also declining to directly address criticisms raised by an analysis of actual campaign data.

Our cover story on Monday outlined the concerns raised by ad fraud consultancy Method Media Intelligence and investment house Gotham City Research which began coverage of the stock recently.

MMI analysed the campaign performance of its client Ivory Ella which spent over a million dollars with Criteo while GCR did its own investigation to test and validate some of the claims in the MMI report. On the basis of its work GCR say it believed 50 per cent of Criteo’s revenues originates from suspect sources.

Criteo responded overnight telling which-50 via a written statement from its corporate headquarters, “The allegations published by Gotham City include a number of unsubstantiated and false claims directed at Criteo and its business model. Criteo’s 90%+ customer retention rate demonstrates that our system not only provides real value for our clients but sets the global standard. Ensuring high traffic quality is a key component of Criteo’s business model. Criteo regularly conducts external audits with renowned third parties on its traffic which do not correlate with the accusations of Gotham City’s report.” 

“The author failed to seek clarification from Criteo regarding any of the facts and assumptions relating to Criteo’s business model before writing the report. Criteo, in line with our policy, will not comment further on market rumor and speculation.”
Note: It is not clear if Criteo is referring to Which-50 or Gotham City Research in the last point. We can’t speak for GCR. For the record though, Which-50 sent a very detailed set of questions to Criteo in June when we first became aware of the research. You can read the questions here.  Then, as now, they declined to respond to specifics as is their right.
Our view
Criteo is a very successful company. However, that success makes it even more important that they transparently address concerns about their platform and methodology.  Put simply, either the researchers found what they say they found, or they didn’t. It’s basically black and white.
Ad fraud is ubiquitous and this is not an issue unique to Criteo. And importantly the existence of ad fraud on a platform does not indicate the platform owners are responsible for the fraud.
But they are responsible for the mitigation.
For us, the clear question that needs to be answered is whether the Criteo platform and business model is more susceptible to ad fraud than its peers. The answers will be found in the data.
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