A Bunch Of Digital Publishers Bought Cheap Traffic And Later Found Out It Was Fraudulent
This summer, Ozy.com, a news site that’s raised more than $35 million in funding from high-profile investors, published a group of articles in an ongoing series about how companies and entrepreneurs are trying to be a positive force in their communities. The content was created as part of a partnership with JPMorgan Chase, whose logo appears on each article.
The stories appeared to be a big hit: Between May and October, the sponsored content ranked among Ozy’s most-viewed articles, according to traffic data from analytics service SimilarWeb.
It’s the kind of success a publisher and brand would celebrate — except that the vast majority of traffic to the articles was in fact fraudulent, according to ad industry standards. Those stories, as well as other Ozy articles that carried ads from Amazon and Visa, received traffic that was purchased and delivered via a system that automatically loads specific webpages and redirects traffic between participating websites to quickly rack up views without any human action.
JPMorgan told BuzzFeed News it had no idea its sponsored content was receiving paid traffic from the source in question, and Ozy said it believed the audience was valid when it purchased it. Ozy has since told the bank that the resulting traffic was not counted as part of the campaign.