Mobile Measurement Company Adjust Is Buying a Bot-Finding Startup to Combat Digital Ad Fraud

Unbotify is the firm's second acquisition in 2 months

Unbotify analyzes web traffic to differentiate human and bot traffic.
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Adjust, a mobile measurement and fraud prevention company, has acquired a startup to improve its fight against digital ad fraud.

The Tel Aviv-based company today said it will acquire Unbotify, a cybersecurity and artificial intelligence startup that analyzes website traffic to understand the difference between human and bot traffic. The startup was founded in 2015 and works with clients across industries including ecommerce, social, search and gaming.

Bot fraud continues to plague digital advertising and frustrate ad agencies, brands and internet platforms that try to mitigate the amount of money complex bot networks siphon from ad campaigns. The issue has even caught the attention of members of Congress, who have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how bot networks have thrived, even as the most sophisticated companies try to weed them out.

In a rare case of legal action, the Justice Department in November said it arrested several people and indicted others in a multimillion-dollar bot fraud scheme. And there are investigations currently underway that could involve dozens of other bot networks.

“Fighting digital fraud is often referred to as a cat-and-mouse game, because fraudsters catch up so fast,” Yaron Oliker, co-founder and CEO at Unbotify, said in a statement. “That’s why we decided to not raise the bar just a little, but to look at the data points which are the hardest for them to fake—human behavior, thus flipping the fundamental economics in favor of the defender.”

This is Adjust’s second acquisition in two months, following its purchase of Adquired.io in December. And it’s not the only company active with mergers and acquisitions. While many have warned of the continued ad-tech shakeup related to a crowded market and the challenges of new data regulations, 2019 might follow 2018 in being a busy year for the ad-tech and mar-tech sectors. Last week, the parent company of Campaign Monitor announced it had acquired two ad-tech companies to boost its data capabilities.

According to a recent report from Results International, M&A deals increased 4 percent in 2018 for ad tech, mar tech and other sectors including advertising and media agencies. While some of the boost comes from private equity interest, others credit new entrants to a previously stagnant market thanks to consultancy firms looking to take market share from ad agencies.

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