Amazon pulled its advertising spend from Bloomberg after demanding the retraction of a story, but its ads are still running on the publisher's site

  • Amazon pulled its fourth-quarter ad spend with Bloomberg after a controversial tech story about the Chinese government hacking its hardware.
  • However, the ads in question were those purchased directly between Bloomberg and Amazon. Programmatic ads are still appearing on Bloomberg’s site.
  • It’s the latest example of how brands continue to struggle with control of their programmatic ad buys.

Amazon pulled its fourth-quarter advertising spend from Bloomberg, but the company’s ads are still being served on the publisher’s site.

According to a report from BuzzFeed News, Amazon pulled ads from Bloomberg on October 16 after the site published a controversial story alleging the Chinese government hacked Amazon and Apple’s hardware by embedding microchips into third-party motherboards. A source familiar with the advertising relationship between the companies confirmed to Business Insider that Amazon stopped its “pretty significant” fourth-quarter ad spend.

Bloomberg has stood by its reporting but numerous tech executives – including Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy and Apple CEO Tim Cook – have denied the story and asked Bloomberg to retract it.

“They offered no proof, story kept changing, and showed no interest in our answers unless we could validate their theories,”Jassy tweeted. “Reporters got played or took liberties. Bloomberg should retract.”

Programmatic ads continue to plague brands

While Amazon’s media buyer – Initiative, owned by Interpublic Group – did in fact pull the brand’s fourth-quarter ad spend from the site, Amazon later purchased a smaller ad buy with Bloomberg TV for the rest of the year, the source told Business Insider.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But when Business Insider looked at Bloomberg’s website on Friday, an ad for Amazon Prime promoting the upcoming show “Homecoming,” starring Julia Roberts, appeared at the top of an article page from a story published on October 24 about Uber.

Screen Shot 2018 10 26 at 12.33.49 PMBloombergAmazon’s ads on Bloomberg’s website

The ad was placed through Google’s so-called programmatic pipes, which power ads on hundreds of publisher websites, meaning that it was not a direct buy between Amazon and Bloomberg.

It’s the latest example of how brands continue to struggle with control over their digital ad buys when technology – not humans – targets ads all over the web based on someone’s browsing behaviour.

Amazon is no stranger to the perils of programmatic advertising. Its native shopping ads have continued to appear on Breitbart as recently as April at the same time that hundreds of brands have cut Breitbart out of their programmatic buys.

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