DoJ Piles Onto Facebook; FTC Sues Match Group Over Fake Ads

Here’s today’s AdExchanger.com news round-up… Want it by email? Sign up here.

Yet Another Facebook Probe

Bloomberg reports that the Justice Department, at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, will launch an antitrust investigation into Facebook. It’s not clear what exactly the Justice Department will look into, though it will scrutinize conduct that’s not within the purview of the FTC’s antitrust investigation into Facebook. If you need help remembering which government agency is investigating which tech giant and for what reason, check out AdExchanger’s scorecard. In short, the FTC, which fined Facebook $5 billion in July for privacy violations, is also investigating antitrust activity related to Facebook and Amazon. The DoJ is investigating similar activity related to Google and Apple. And now, as per Bloomberg, the DoJ has decided to dig into Facebook as well. More.

Lighting The Match

The FTC sued Match Group, which owns online dating sites OkCupid, Tinder and Match.com, for using fake ads to get its users to sign up. The company is accused of targeting nonsubscribers with messages that falsely claimed someone had expressed interest in their profile, The Wall Street Journal reports. Using this tactic, Match Group was purportedly able to rack up 500,000 paid users between June 2016 and May 2018. According to the FTC, most people subscribed to the service within 24 hours of receiving the fake ad notification. Overall, more than half of the messages and likes received by Match users between 2013 and 2016 were from fraudulent accounts. “Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Match plans to challenge the FTC’s claims, which it says are based on “misrepresented internal emails” and “cherry-picked data” that misconstrues bots and spam as fraud. More.

Put A Pin In That

Pinterest is a hotbed of shopping intent, but it wasn’t until this year that the visual social media company made a concerted push into the retail vertical, Ad Age reports. Pinterest has a unique value prop and a scaled user base, but it struggles to demonstrate its upper-funnel strength in product discovery compared to other platforms, namely Facebook and Instagram, where there’s more data and attributable sales. Pinterest can be a strong driver of awareness, though, and plant shopping ideas even if conversions happen elsewhere, said AJ Nicholas, marketing chief of the DTC furniture company The Inside. “Similar to most startups, we’re pretty cognizant of our cost of acquisition, and that’s much easier to see on a platform like Facebook and Instagram,” he said. More.

Getting Twitchy

Twitch is unveiling a brand and site redesign in a new campaign – and video games barely get a mention. The Amazon-owned live streaming platform is looking to move beyond its roots in video game streaming and be seen as more of a general home to all things live streamed. The revamp is backed by a national OOH and digital media campaign, with the slogan “You’re already one of us,” The New York Times reports. Twitch is a monster in terms of overall engagement. In the past three months alone more live video was streamed on Twitch than on YouTube and Facebook combined. And that’s a big part of what makes it a particularly valuable channel for advertisers – at least those willing to brave a video gaming network. Twitch has a young audience that’s hard to find elsewhere due to their affinity for watching ad-free TV and using ad blockers. If Amazon wanted to, it could really crank up the monetization. “We’re owned by Amazon, so that gives us access to a whole lot of data,” said Anthony Danzi, Twitch’s SVP of sales, at Advertising Week in New York City. “But we philosophically still haven’t decided how we want to use that.” More.

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