Ad fraud warning as Publicis-backed digital media company Matomy struggles

Struggling digital media company Matomy, in which Publicis Groupe invested over £50m four years ago, has sounded the alarm over "rapidly growing fraudulent online ad impressions".

Publicis Groupe invested in Matomy in 2014 under then CEO Maurice Lévy
Publicis Groupe invested in Matomy in 2014 under then CEO Maurice Lévy

Matomy disclosed that as a direct consequence of removing suspicious publishers and advertisers from its platform it suffered a revenue hit of $3.8m (£2.9m) between the first half of 2017 and the first half of 2018.

However, the Israeli-headquartered company’s financial problems range wider than ad fraud, with its net losses tripling to $19.1m (£14.7m). It has exited or sold its video ad exchange Optimatic, email marketing platform Whitedelivery and digital media buying platform myDSP since announcing a restructure last year.

As of 30 June it had $14.4m in cash, down from $29.4m at the start of the year after major shareholders agreed in December 2017 to provide funding through to December 2018. Today it said it could give no assurance regarding raising additional capital in the future if needed.

Since 2014, when Publicis Groupe acquired a 20% stake at 227p per share and Matomy listed on the London Stock Exchange, the value of the company’s shares has crashed from 239p to 33p. 

Publicis’ then-chief executive Maurice Lévy explained the company's investment was a way to give its clients "unrivalled access to the brightest and most promising talent and technology".

At the time, Matomy’s deputy chairman and senior independent director was former ITV ad sales chief Rupert Howell. Howell took over as chairman in 2015 but decided not to stand for re-election and ceased to be a director on 10 January 2017.

Today Matomy’s chief executive and non-executive chairman Sami Totah said he was "encouraged by the growth and potential" of its remaining businesses Mobfox, which covers in-app advertising, and Team Internet, which covers domain advertising and monetisation.

Totah added that Matomy has taken and is continuing to take "decisive" actions to cut out fraudulent traffic and this has "raised industry confidence in Matomy’s platforms".

Matomy’s results also demonstrate the impact of stricter quality requirements from video advertisers, which it partly blamed for an 82% fall in video revenue to $6.4m. It closed its Optimatic programmatic platform in April.

Publicis is still a major shareholder, with a 24.9% stake. 

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