Officials have uncovered the biggest ad fraud scam in history with the Russian Methbot operation. But this is not the only news happing in the world of online fraud. Back in June 2016, we posted a blog discussing allegations of click fraud between Criteo and SteelHouse. This case is still going on and things are just getting more and more vicious. Since it doesn’t look like things will end anytime soon, we decided to give you an update on the case so far.
Simply put, Criteo is a digital advertising firm based in France and SteelHouse is a US based ad tech company. The two are direct competitors, although Criteo is an industry giant with over $1 billion earned in 2015 and SteelHouse is a much smaller private firm. Both companies deal in pay-per-click advertising and charge advertisers based on conversion rates, or the number of people that click on ads compared to the number of views.
This is where things start to get nasty.
According to Business Insider Uk, Criteo accused SteelHouse of running a “counterfeit click fraud scheme” that led to “substantial injury and damage.” Things get pretty complicated after that so in this post, we will break down what has happened since the initial complaint was filed by Criteo.
January 2016: Criteo reported that they lost their client TOMS as a result of false accusations by SteelHouse claiming to be superior in direct comparisons and analysis. Criteo then conducted a “detailed and costly data log analysis” to determine how to improve their performance. In doing so, they concluded a number of fraudulent clicks were used by SteelHouse to “win” the comparison.
April 2016: Criteo sent an email to SteelHouse reporting their conclusions and said they were “open to hearing what [SteelHouse’s] CEO intends to do to immediately remedy this situation.”
May 2016: SteelHouse announced that they would implement changes in their code to address the situation. Criteo says that this was not done and on May 23rd, issued a cease and desist letter to SteelHouse.
June 2016: In the US District Court, Central California, Criteo filed a lawsuit against SteelHouse claiming it had lost business due to SteelHouse’s use of falsely taking “last click attribution” for visits to retailer’s websites.
July 2016: SteelHouse filed a countersuit accusing Criteo of trying to intimidate a smaller firm. Among other things, the claims also implicate Criteo in false advertising and intentionally interfering with a contract.
September 2016: SteelHouse denied accusations and compelled former clients of SteelHouse to sign statements in support of Criteo.
Additional information can be found in this more detailed timeline of Criteo S.A. v. Steel House, Inc.
There are a number of claims that indicate malicious activity and fraudulent clicks, as well as business practices that are unethical and illegal. Unfortunately, it looks like this game of cat and mouse may go on for quite some time. Be sure to keep checking our latest blog posts for further updates.
You can also learn more about the complex click fraud lawsuit between WickFire Vs. TriMax.
As we discussed in our post; Why Suing Google Is Not The Answer To The Click Fraud Problem, the best way for companies to protect themselves is to invest in a click fraud prevention system.