Fetch Media, the digital and mobile specialist owned by Dentsu, is being sued for $40m by Uber for “click fraud,” allegedly billing the ride-hailing giant for fake online ads and downloads it had nothing to do with.
Fetch, based in San Francisco with an office in London, has billed Uber $7m for ad placements.
Uber says the issue came to light when it sought to exclude ads from right-wing website Breibart News but they kept appearing anyway.
Fetch CEO James Connelly said last year: “One of the biggest challenges we face as digital marketers is to reduce mobile ad fraud.” The agency uses research firm Forensiq to try to weed out fake sites.
Digital ad fraud has been recognised as a problem costing advertisers hundreds, maybe billions of dollars but no-one seems to know exactly what to do about it. When ads are served programmatically it’s almost impossible to discover where they all went.
But suing a media agency for such failings is new and will send a shiver down down the corporate spines of media agencies everywhere and their holding company owners.
Fetch CEO Connelly has delivered a stinging rejoinder to Uber:
“We are shocked by Uber’s allegations which are unsubstantiated, completely without merit, and purposefully inflammatory so as to draw attention away from Uber’s unprofessional behaviour and failure to pay suppliers. Fetch terminated its agreement with Uber months ago after Uber stopped paying invoices for services provided by over fifty small business suppliers, engaged by Fetch to place Uber’s mobile advertising. Following months of non payment, Uber eventually raised unsubstantiated claims relating to ad-fraud as a reason not to pay its invoices, but there is no basis to these claims.
“Fetch not only delivered Uber’s strategic goals, helping it acquire over 37 million new users since 2014, but also achieved an outstanding rating from the client throughout the two-year relationship. In the same period Fetch advised Uber on tactics to reduce ad fraud in mobile advertising.
“Fetch takes ad fraud extremely seriously and has been working with clients and suppliers to minimise its impact within ad networks. It is unfortunate that Uber would misconstrue facts and use an industry-wide issue as a means of avoiding its contractual obligations. We vigorously deny the allegations from Uber and will be responding robustly to ensure we set the record straight.”