(20 September 2018)
Hi Jean, thanks for this.
cc our press/marketing team (we do all press and marketing in house) and we’ll get back to you with some answers. We’re obviously very aware of all kinds of abuse when it comes to financial services whether it is fake news or phishing or other things, and we spend a lot of time educating our users and the market in general, and always try our best to not perpetuate any behaviour that is bad for consumers.
The team will get back to you asap.
Btw, good that you guys re writing about this stuff it needs a lot more public awareness, thank you.
(25 September 2018)
Apologies for the delay with getting back to you. Please find our answers in the Document attached. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any further questions or if you would like to have a briefing with Marcus
Global Head of PR
At Luno we use two credible advertising networks to promote our product online: Adroll and Google. These networks account for millions of online publishers who monetise their websites through programmatic advertising directly through Adroll/Google and use programmatic bidding which focuses on finding the best possible prospective users wherever they are in the online ecosystem. It’s an algorithm powered by machine learning and is used industry wide.
In your case it is most probable that you had visited the Luno website and then visited one of the ‘fake news’ website as part of your research. It is likely that the algorithm identified you as a good user (likely to use our platform) to re-target and, therefore, showed you our ad using the ad-space on the aforementioned news site.
We also work closely with these global networks and have individual account managers, we are able to blacklist sites from our campaigns as well as report sites that shouldn’t be used for their network for all other publishers.
We have supplied answers to your questions for further clarity.
● The driving force behind misinformation/fake news websites such as these are monetising the traffic it generates, mainly through advertising revenue. Your company is indirectly contributing towards this with the programmatic advertisements seen on the site. Would you consider this statement a fair summary? If not, please indicate an alternative.
These news sites are being monetised through various methods including programmatic advertising. Advertisers buy space through ad-networks and in cases where the network does not identify the ad-space as being on a malicious site or a site that breaches their policy the advertiser’s ad will be displayed to target the user. Whenever we identify that the network has placed our ad on a site that could be maliciously spreading misinformation, we would immediately ask the network to blacklist this site from our campaign. The crux of the problem hinges on how the network defines which news sites and are good or bad. In this case it raises the question: to what extent is it the role of the network to define which news content is ‘fake’ given it’s an entirely subjective matter that depends on human interpretation and sociology-political convictions of individuals that engage with the information. Ultimately, it is an issue consistently faced by any advertiser who engages in this kind of marketing in an industry where $100 billions are invested globally on programmatic advertising.
● Who is responsible for your company’s marketing strategy? Do you make use of in-house or external talent to identify and implement these strategies?
We have an in-house specialist team that manages a number of marketing and advertising tools. These tools are widely accepted within the industry as the most appropriate and legitimate for this kind of advertising.
● What is the mandate of your company’s marketing strategists mentioned in 2) above in respect of advertising on blacklisted websites? For example, how do you ensure that your brand is not associated with pornographic or illegal websites?
The networks we use have extensive policies that ensure our ads would never appear on pornographic or illegal websites. These policies can be seen here.
We also regularly check which sites are driving any meaningful impression volume. We would expect that the site you visited would have a minimal amount of impressions served. We also regularly blacklist any websites we deem inappropriate or at odds with our brand values, however, at present it is not feasible to blacklist websites before we are made aware of them due to the sheer volume of them.
● Do you take similar precautions to ensure your brand is not associated with misinformation websites? If not, why not?
We would never directly engage with any website, publisher or company that we felt would damage the Luno brand, or misinform the community we serve.
● Were you aware that your advertisements were being published on websites propagating false stories as news?
We were not aware that our ads were being shown on any sites that were actively engaging in malicious activity. As we have already mentioned, once we discover them we take immediate action to ensure we don’t advertise via these sites again.
● Now that you are aware that your brand is advertising on misinformation websites, what steps do you intend taking to safeguard the integrity of your brand?
Once we become aware that a certain site is spreading misinformation, has a malicious agenda or endorses points of view that we deem to be damaging for the industry, we will immediately blacklist the site from our campaigns.