Gotham City Research is releasing Criteo SA (NASDAQ: CRTO): Is Criteo Malware? And Why Does Criteo Refuse to Reveal to its Clients Where Their Ads Are Placed? in two parts:
- Part I features Method Media Intelligence’s Criteo Report (released today)
- Part II features Gotham City Research’s Criteo Report (released next week)
Background: Criteo’s shares declined the last two days, after the company announced that its exposure to Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention was 20% of revenue, not 8% as was widely believed before Wednesday. While Apple’s pro-privacy initiatives are a threat to Criteo’s business model, we have reason to believe that Criteo has even bigger problems than Apple for the following reasons:
Gotham City Research’s Opinions
- Over 50% of Criteo’s revenues originate from suspect sources (e.g. clickbots, fake/low quality websites, etc).
- Criteo takes credit for clients’ sales it did not contribute to, and in some cases, that never actually occurred.
- Clients will leave or demand reimbursements from Criteo, out of brand safety & revenue misattribution concerns.
- Criteo’s sales & profits will decline as a result of increased client scrutiny, leading to a 67%-77% decline in its share price.
Summary of Method Media Intelligence’s Criteo Report
- Criteo operates with no transparency as to where the clicks they charge advertisers for are being generated.
- Criteo charged a client at least 61% higher than what was truly reported.
- Criteo reports 42% higher clicks than our own tracking code that is on the same page as theirs.
- Criteo claims attribution credit to their ads for transactions that were falsely triggered by a bot.
- Criteo displays ads on websites that do NOT fit a PG13 or “Disney Safe” standard as they claim.
- Criteo’s timestamp of the transactions are dated after the timestamp in Shopify, which allows extra clicks to be billed to those User ID’s even after a purchase is made.
- All advertisers should engage in audits and review of any campaigns operating on a cost-per-click model.
About Method Media Intelligence
Method Media Intelligence (“MMI”), headed by Shailin Dhar, is a San Francisco based concern that specialises in detecting ad fraud.
MMI concluded a multi-month investigation into Criteo. The MMI report summarizes their findings, which they describe as “an analysis of fraudulent digital advertising practices at one of the largest ad-tech companies.”