The biggest story in tech no one’s talking about is Uber discovering they’d been defrauded out of $100M - or 2/3 of their ad spend.

And all bc Sleeping Giants kept bugging them to block their ads on Breitbart. ImageImage
I was so surprised when Kevin Frisch, Uber’s ex-Head of Acquisition reached out to me one day on LinkedIn to tell me he found this epic fraud bc they actually DID block their Breitbart ads but somehow the ads were still slipping thru. 🧐
Uber was in deep shit in 2017 because Sleeping Giants was on their case for their Breitbart ads, followed by #DeleteUber.

Kevin said in an interview last year that we were a pain in their ass and he wished we’d get hit by a bus lol

vox.com/policy-and-pol…
Uber DID actually quietly block their Breitbart ads early on, but our followers kept seeing them and so we kept tweeting @ CEO Travis.

Travis was seeing our tweets and would ping Kevin saying “WTF. Have you not handled this yet?” Image
So Kevin - who is embarrassed bc he had instructed all vendors to block Breitbart (!!) - figures out which ones are letting the ads slip thru & pauses them. It’s ~10% of their total budget, $150M.

A significant % when they’ve already lost so many riders due to #DeleteUber.
He braced for a big hit to new user acquisition. But what happened was...nothing. No change in performance.

Let’s do some math here. 10% of $150M is $15M. It seems like spending that $15M had NO impact at all on their business. Image
So where was this $15M going? For the first time, Kevin starts pulling log files & auditing vendors.

He begins seeing weird things like users clicking on ads and then being logged into Uber 2 seconds later...physically impossible.

Turns out their vendors were making shit up.
For ex, one ad network launched “battery saver” style apps in Google Play, giving them root access to your phone.

When you type the word “Uber” into your Google Play, it auto-fires a click to make it look like you clicked on an Uber ad and attribute the install to themselves.🤯
This shit is BRAZEN, right? So at this point, Kevin turns off 2/3 of their ad spend...and once again, no change in performance!!!

Over $100M worth of ads was doing jack shit. Uber’s customers were coming in organically, on the strength of their brand, WOM, referrals, etc. Image
After knocking out $100M in fraud, Kevin is now working with about $50M.

So now he turns to general campaign performance & optimization (the standard stuff) and realizes he can knock off another $20M in wasteful spend.
So in the end, Uber could have met all their growth & acquisition goals for about a little more than 1/10 of the price tag.

Lol. Image
Please listen to the whole extraordinary interview w/ Kevin & @themktgtoday!

Listen here:
marketingtodaypodcast.com/194-historic-a…
Btw, we’re uncovering the whole damn adtech grift in our newsletter, BRANDED.

Subscribe here!
branded.substack.com
The screenshots from my first tweet is from @AdContrarian’s newsletter. He keeps an eye on all the shenanigans.

Read more here:
createsend.com/t/d-7426D8509B…
If you're curious how this plays out for small businesses, we did an audit for Headphones[.]com. They went from $1200/day to $40/day with no change in performance.

Read the case study:
branded.substack.com/p/under-the-ho…
Obligatory pitch: If you're a global brand or F500, we can train your teams to check their ads and develop guidelines for your in-house teams + agencies. It's the only thing that works!

checkmyads.org

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More from @nandoodles

May 17
It has come to my attention that not everyone knows that a popular weather channel called @WeatherNation is actually a front designed to funnel ad revenues to Steve Bannon's War Room.
OK! Let me explain. It starts w/ a man named Robert Sigg, a businessman who made a smart, early bet: launching @WeatherNation. He easily plugged his (free) channel into @Roku, @dish, @SamsungTV @amazon — & TONS of ad revenues.

After all, everyone needs to check the weather!
Sigg is a shrewd businessman. When he learned Bannon was launching War Room, he saw an opportunity to cash in again: this time w/ propaganda. Thx to @WeatherNation, he could instantly plug the show into millions of US households + the digital ad supply.
Read 13 tweets
May 16
🚨HOLY SHIT: @getpublica, an @integralads company, appears to be DIRECTLY monetizing Steve Bannon over at Real America's Voice.

How did this happen, @BenAntier? ImageImage
For those of you new here, @integralads is a "brand safety technology" company that claims to filter out hate, abuse and violence from your ad buy. In reality, their filters block legitimate news coverage and funnel cash to hate sites — like Bannon's.

checkmyads.org/branded/adtech…
Where is your sellers.json file, @getpublica???
Read 5 tweets
May 9
Last yr, writers @ The Post Millennial began quietly writing for a Canadian tourism site: WhoaCanada.ca, churning out anodyne content about Tim Horton's + things to do in Toronto.

Why? Follow along to learn about TPM's secret (and final) source of advertising revenue. Whoa Canada article headline: 10 unlikely locations to find The Post Millennial headline: "America isn't a racist n
I first caught whiff of WhoaCanada.ca while digging around @Yahoo's sellers.json directory. TPM's account contains 3 domains:

•ThePostMillennial(.)com (hate site)
•HumanEvents(.)com (hate site)
•Whoa Canada ("7 desserts you can get in Toronto")

Lol what❓ Whoa Canada homepage. w/ headlines like "10 historical
It took me ~15 sec to realize that WhoaCanada.ca *is* The Post Millennial — an ad operation explicitly designed to be the "brand safe" arm of TPM. This secret domain allows them to continue collecting ad $$, effectively subsidizing TPM's racist + transphobic content.
Read 8 tweets
May 3
[Interrupts beautiful tropical vacation to share the following:]

A handful of men in adtech are planning to get rich off selling the data of any woman attempting to secure an abortion directly to law enforcement.

Here are faces of the men behind @SafeGraph.

1. @auren Image
2. @bokelley

Brian O’Kelley previously founded @AppNexus and prides himself on being the first ad exchange to drop Breitbart.

Now, he’s a major investor in a co that will help law enforcement “catch” women seeking medical care & abortions. Image
3. @JoeZawadzki

Joe founded @mediamath, famously known as “Math Media.” He probably got rich off of that, and will now get rich off of selling out women who have no idea they’re being tracked and personally identified when they visit @PPFA. Image
Read 12 tweets
Apr 19
NEW: Over the past 2 weeks, we've been watching an ad exchange called @unrulyco attempt to cover up its ties to Steve Bannon by telling their clients they're advertising on...a weather channel.

Follow along as we unravel our latest BRANDED.🧵

checkmyads.org/branded/looks-…
Steve Bannon is not supposed to be on any ad exchanges. After Sleeping Giants, advertisers + ad exchanges universally agreed he (& Breitbart) are not brand safe.

But he's always managed to sneak back in. This time through Performance One Media LLC.

Performance One Media (P1 Media) is run by a Denver businessman named Robert Sigg. He made big $$ from two TV channels: Weather Nation and Pursuit. Looking for fresh biz dev opps, he went and cut a deal w/ the freshly pardoned Bannon who was launching his new show War Room.
Read 11 tweets
Mar 25
How are you going to block your ads from Russian propaganda networks if @Google hides the ownership of nearly all the websites in its inventory?

In our latest BRANDED, we explore how a shady Google practice is making all advertisers fund this war.

checkmyads.org/branded/google…
This issue was inspired by this @intercom ad on a Russia propaganda site.

They are vocally against the war. But tweeting at them is pointless. They couldn’t stop these ads from going to the Kremlin even if they want to.

Why? Bc @google won’t let them see seller information.
Let me break this down.

We can all agree that should not be walking around blindfolded, handing out suitcases filled with cash to strangers on the internet.

But that is exactly how the $700B digital advertising works today, mostly because of @google.
Read 10 tweets

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