'You lied, you cheated ... Bye!' Programmatic Ad Firm Publicly Breaks Up With Newsweek

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The current print edition of Newsweek.
The current print edition of Newsweek. Credit: Newsweek

The drama surrounding Newsweek shows no sign of letting up. (If you need to catch up, here's an Ad Age post from Tuesday morning: "What You Need to Know About the Insane Crisis at Newsweek.")

On Thursday, a self-service programmatic video platform rather theatrically parted ways with the news organization. A press release issued by the Boulder, Colorado-based company titled "Brandzooka Blocks Newsweek from Ad Platform Amid Transparency, Deceit," doesn't explicitly reference a BuzzFeed investigation published last Thursday—"The Publisher of Newsweek and The International Business Times Has Been Buying Traffic and Engaging in Ad Fraud"—but certainly seems to be responding to it.

Brandzooka's statement directly addresses Newsweek and reads, in part,

When we started Brandzooka ... we were excited about building a new way for advertisers and publishers to succeed .... Our belief in empowering the world's best creators by connecting their content to the best publishers online has not wavered, and that is why we are so incredibly enraged. You lied, you cheated, and you destroyed the trust that your organization held in all of our eyes. Worse yet, your actions dragged everyone else into the mud with you. Shame on you.

That's why as of this morning, we have blocked Newsweek from our platform, and will no longer serve any of our 22,000 users' ads on your site. Deceit, lying, and cheating have no place in our industry or in the modern ad world. We only serve our customers' video ads to REAL people, and will not accept traffic generated by paid-for bots. We hope that during your "restructuring," you will stamp out this dishonesty, and return to the reputable news outlet that you once were.

In the meantime, bye!

The statement is signed "Sincerely, the entire Brandzooka Team."

As BuzzFeed noted last week, the Newsweek Media Group "acknowledged buying traffic, but denies engaging in ad fraud." Ad Age has reached out to Newsweek for comment regarding Brandzooka's statement and will update this post when we hear back.

Meanwhile, NBC News reports that Ed Hannigan, the head of sales at the Newsweek Media Group, resigned this week.

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