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A Response to the Financial Times

Bots are a real problem, but less so than sensational headlines on top of non-news. A recent Financial Times article cites Mercedes-Benz as estimating that fewer than 6% of an online advertising campaign served by Rocket Fuel were labeled as questionable, yet the headline suggests an apocalypse of digital advertising. Between Rocket Fuel's bot-screening technology and our accredited partners' (in this case, Integral Ad Science) real-time screening, Rocket Fuel found quality ad inventory to serve in place of the 6% of Mercedes ads identified as questionable, and delivered those impressions to humans before any bills were even sent.

Rocket Fuel takes an aggressive posture to screen bots out of the ad space in the over 200 countries worldwide where we serve our customers' ads. We reject approximately 40% of all ad space daily due to its failure to pass our own bot and brand-safety screens. In February of 2014, when the Financial Times suggests that we delivered approximately 200,000 impressions to bots, we rejected 497,827,451,520 impressions while evaluating approximately 1.1 trillion impressions as candidates for our customers' ads. Put another way, if every ad the Financial Times suggests we delivered were the size of a 1"x1" postage stamp, and those ads were laid down side by side, they would cover 49% of one standard doubles' tennis court. By contrast, we rejected 1,231,173 tennis courts' worth of questionable ad space.

There is an ongoing arms race between Rocket Fuel and scammers who create fake websites and bot traffic in an attempt to fool advertisers into spending money to "advertise" to these bots who can appear human if not studied carefully. We want to help advertisers make sure they're getting real results from Rocket Fuel and their other partners, and to this end we have been providing free tools for years to help them run clean A/B tests to measure the incremental value Rocket Fuel adds to their advertising. In addition, two weeks ago we announced that we will release a free bot-detection tool that will further help advertisers keep bots out of their results.

As we help advertisers achieve new levels of success in digital marketing, they spend more with Rocket Fuel. This, in turn, has powered our growth as Deloitte's #1 fastest-growing technology company in North America, and is further evidenced by our industry-leading success-story program which features 45 branded customer testimonials.