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Anti-fraud outfit Telemetry poised to close its doors as directors file for new company name

Telemetry's landing page

Telemetry, an adtech outfit that specialized in detecting fraudulent traffic and was once tipped to be worth $486m plus a possible IPO, has ceased operations The Drum has learned – a development that took place in the immediate aftermath of the recent Methbot revelations.

Industry sources note that Telemetry closed its operations with short notice on the final day of 2016, with adops execs attempting to contact the UK-based outfit (which also claimed to have operations in New York and Los Angeles) receiving automated emails notifying them of the development.

Today (11 January) the company registered to change its name from Telemetry to Mega Electrics Holding Limited according to Companies House, indicating that the directors planned to continue in a new form.

Telemetry’s website remains operational, although customer attempts to log-in to its dashboard are met with a “DNS address could not be found” message, with market sources also noting that a single customer representative will remain to support customers during the transition period.

The Drum attempted to source comment from Telemetry, which is listed as having a headcount of between 50-100 employees, contacting the outfit via the telephone number listed for its London and New York offices, where an automated voice message tells callers the number is no longer in service. Although it was eventually able to reach a company representative who claimed it was going through a “transition”.

At time of initial publication, The Drum was awaiting Telemetry cofounder and chief executive Anthony Rushton, who had once tipped the company to go public in 2015, to provide official comment on the latest developments after several attempts to contact him.

UPDATE: Rushton has since issued the below statement in italics to The Drum:

"Fees for the verification of online media are on a constant downward spiral and it became impossible to make money whilst maintaining the quality of full audit services and the support teams required to operate at that level."

Telemetry, a self described “London-based independent digital media forensics company” was founded in 2009. It worked with advertisers and agencies to ensure “that the ads are properly delivered, are being viewed by the intended audience, alongside the proper content, and that reach and impressions are not being inflated”.

Brands that have worked with the outfit include: L’Oreal; Mercedes-Benz; Reckitt Benckiser; Unilever; Verizon Wireless; among others. And in 2012 it claimed revenues of £24m, with Deloitte then tipping it to be valued at £486m by 2015.

Media agency sources had complained that Telemetry’s technology would frequently break down which would then result in it under-reporting campaign numbers, as opposed to the total number of ads served. This scenario would then prove a more favorable number for Telemetry's client-direct accounts and place downward pressure on the agency campaign figures.

Other sources have also highlighted the close proximity of Telemetry's closure and the Methbot claims made in WhiteOps' most recent report – where it claimed that advertisers are losing up to $7m per day – claims that have prompted an investigation by US Federal authorities – could arguably have caused a crisis of confidence in its ability to detect fraudulent traffic adequately.

UPDATE: Rushton has since issued the below response in italics to the above:

"Our clients were immunised against 'Methbot' or 'Methbrowser' as we termed it, for a full 18 months prior to our decision to close down our verification services."

Documents on Telemetry's Companies House profile show that a document dated December 6, 2016, demonstrated a motion to have it struck off and dissolved was later discontinued (see below).

Although the latest accounts information available on the same page contains a document which revealed that it suffered an 8% reduction in revenue in 2014 compared to 12 months earlier, due to the loss of a single client. The same note claimed the bulk of its revenues are generated in the US. Accounts for the proceeding 12 months are listed as "overdue".

Telmetry was behind the high-profile 2014 report which claimed that a Mercedes-Benz online ad campaign was viewed more often by bots than human beings, with adtech outfit Rocket Fuel. The latter company itself announced the imminent lay-off of 11% of its global headcount yesterday (January 10), fingered as inadvertently facilitating the error (many have claimed this has led to Rocket Fuel’s stock price to go into a tail-spin which it has yet to recover from).

* This article was updated with responses from Anthony Rushton, Mega Electric, CEO on 01.12.17

Ronan Shields

I cover digital media trading and martech for The Drum magazine, plus I write my own opinion pieces, I don't really commission them.

All by Ronan