What you need to know in advertising today

Facebook cofounder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Big advertisers may have supported Facebook as it embarked on an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat its critics – and they probably don’t even know it.

According to a bombshell New York Times report published Wednesday, Facebook hired the conservative lobbying firm Definers Public Affairs in the midst of its PR crisis in October 2017, which, among other tactics, ran a news site called NTK Network as part of its operations – described as an “in-house fake news shop” by sources to NBC News.

Facebook said it ended its relationship with the firm Wednesday. But a day after the report, advertisers like Pringles, Cheez-It, Oscar Mayer, and Hertz, to name a few, continue to run ads on NTK Network,Business Insider has found. Kellogg’s is the parent company of Pringles and Cheez-It while Kraft owns Oscar Mayer.

To read more about how brands like Kraft and Kellogg’s have found themselves on the wrong side of brand safety again, click here.

In related news:

Sheryl Sandberg says she also didn’t know about a Facebook smear campaign, as Mark Zuckerberg throws the firm’s comms team under a bus. In a Facebook post, Sandberg said she had no idea Facebook hired a public-relations firm to smear the company’s critics, including the billionaire George Soros, while CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook’s communications team was to blame.

Several top marketers were openly critical of the tech giant, a day after the investigation, The New York Times reports. The revelations may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest ad companies.

In other news:

Scammers have accelerated their attacks on connected-TV and OTT devices, marking a whole new front for advertisers and publishers to combat ad fraud. Verification company DoubleVerify recently uncovered a new fraud scheme, in which a botnet specifically targeted connected-TV devices.

Quartz’s new app is banking on big names like Richard Branson to help create a ‘constructive and civil’ alternative to Facebook and Twitter. After being acquired by Uzabase for between $US75 million to $US110 million in July, Quartz has relaunched the Newspicks app as a standalone app.

‘Dealers who do not sell mobility will soon be history’: AT&T’s satellite strategy is shifting after a dismal quarter for pay TV. AT&T has made a number of changes to DirecTV dealer contracts in recent months that indicate its satellite business could be becoming less of a priority.