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☕ Fake it ’til you make it
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Marketing Brew // Morning Brew // Update
Finding fraud in apps.
Morning Brew September 23, 2022

Marketing Brew


Today is Friday. And there’s a new celebrity skin-care line on the market, brought to you by none other than renowned skin-care expert *checks notes*...Brad Pitt.

In today’s edition:

—Ryan Barwick, Katie Hicks, Jack Appleby


Counterfeit clicks?

phone with "ad fraud" on it Dianna “Mick” McDougall

Holy fraud, Batman!?! Today, the cybersecurity firm Human (formerly called White Ops) revealed that it had pulled the rug out from under what it has called an “ad fraud scheme” present in apps that had been downloaded nearly 13 million (!) times.

An investigation spearheaded by Human found 80 Android apps and nine iOS apps committing fraud “through a variety of tactics,” like pretending to be other apps to skim off programmatic advertising dollars (a strategy that’s known as “spoofing”), running ads where users couldn’t see them, or faking clicks.

Zoom out: Because so much of programmatic advertising is automated and without much transparency, bad actors who engage in “a little bit of fraud” can actually get a small slice of a “really, really, huge market,” Gavin Reid, VP of threat intelligence at Human, said, though he couldn’t estimate how much this operation may have cost advertisers.

  • This year, ad spend on programmatic digital display alone is expected to reach $123 billion, according to Insider Intelligence estimates.

It’s “kind of a level of maturity for these miscreants, where not only are they playing these fake ads, but they’re also mimicking a user interacting with them. That’s pretty scary stuff,” said Reid. Keep reading here.—RB



Burnin’ up

A map of the US showing the "Extreme Heat Belt" on fire Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photos: Getty Images

“My world’s on fire, how ’bout yours?” is both a Smash Mouth lyric and a summary of this year’s Climate Week.

As people gathered to hear the latest corporate promises (and thoughts from Entourage cast members?) at Climate Week NYC, new reports show the marketing industry’s role in the climate crisis continues to be…not great, Bob!

Report cards are in: Clean Creatives and climate advocacy group Comms Declare released the second-annual “F-List” of PR and ad agencies working with fossil-fuel companies. All six holding groups were included, as well as independent agencies like Edelman, which Clean Creatives has called “one of the worst when it comes to fossil-fuel PR.” Publishers like the New York Times’s T Brand Studios and the Washington Post Creative Group were also called out.

By the numbers:

  • This week, ad platform Good Loop released a study which found that 76% of US and UK marketers think the digital ad industry needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions. While 51% of US respondents said their organization plans to reach net zero in digital advertising at some point in the future, only 24% said it’s set targets to do so.
  • A new study from Harvard University and the Algorithmic Transparency Institute looked at European Union-based airlines’, car brands’, and fossil-fuel companies’ online activity this summer, determining that “social media appears to be the ‘new frontier’ of climate disinformation and deception.” While most of the companies the study looked at did not address the climate crisis on social, many sought to curate a green image or to direct audiences away from “companies’ core business operations.”

ICYMI: Federal lawmakers are looking into the role of PR and advertising in the climate crisis.

  • The House Natural Resource Committee held a hearing last week on PR companies’ role in climate misinformation. The committee’s report found that they often “go far beyond typical marketing techniques” to help fossil-fuel companies, like making fake news sites and “engineering astroturf ‘citizen’ groups” in attempts to improve brand image and fight legislation.
  • The House Committee on Oversight and Reform obtained internal documents from oil and gas companies as part of an investigation, revealing—among other things—that fossil-fuel execs “privately downplayed their companies’ own public messages about efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and weakened industry-wide commitments to push for climate policies,” according to the New York Times.


Sit back, relax, and let data do the driving


Sure, we could talk about the shifting sands of consumer demands. And we could sing the praises of data-driven marketing.

Instead, we’ll tell you how Attest puts those over-discussed truths to work for your business.

Attest can give you the insights to steer your campaigns in the right direction. Their consumer research platform offers an easy-to-use, self-serve tool that gives you agency-quality insights—without the agency price tag. You get the support of dedicated industry experts, plus the ability to personalize your consumer surveys and tap into high-quality data like it’s nbd.

You don’t need to be a research expert to get expert insights. Pump the breaks on data-driven stress and let Attest give your marketing the momentum it needs to be successful.

Get started here.



How to feature a TikToker in an ad, starring Khaby Lame

How to feature a TikToker in an ad, starring Khaby Lame Hugo Boss

Future Social is a weekly newsletter on social media, content, and creators from Jack Appleby, a Morning Brew creator who’s worked in social media for 10 years at companies like Beats by Dre, Microsoft, and Twitch. Check out an excerpt from one of his pieces below, and sign up for Future Social here.

The brand spokespeople of yesteryear came from all the fame avenues you’d expect. Pro athletes, actors, and fictional Nascar drivers smiled alongside products for TV commercials and print ads, selling us normal folk on those brands’ dreams.

This is 2022, though. YouTubers, TikTokers, and social media stars are the new celebrities. Dancing can get you your own Dunkin’ drink. Staring and shrugging earns you a Hugo Boss line…and 149.5 million TikTok followers.

That’s where today’s lesson comes from, actually: Khaby Lame’s new TikTok ad for Hugo Boss. It’s a perfect example of a creator-led social advertisement. Let’s break it down.—JA



The seven wonders of the (influencer) world. Fun fact: 82% of consumers have purchased a product because a friend, family member, or influencer posted about it on social. Wowza! See seven successful brands’—like Apollo Neuro, AppSumo, and Mapiful—winning influencer marketing strategies right here in’s latest ebook. Curious to see what a robust growth engine can do for your influencer marketing ROI? Get a demo of and jump-start your holiday revenue.



French press Francis Scialabba

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Game of life: Twitter has new insights regarding gaming discussions on the platform.

News to me: A new Pew Research study found that “half of US adults get news at least sometimes from social media.”

*Kesha voice* I’ll eat you up: How to stop “keyword cannibalization” when marketing similar products.

No cookies? No worries: Contextual targeting lets marketers take control of their campaigns and drive successful results. Learn more about how contextual advertising can save the day in a cookieless future with StackAdapt’s report.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


Insights from today’s B2B marketing practitioners

Insights from today’s BB marketing practitioners

Create demand, build a brand, and destroy commodity content.

Find your instant advantage today—listen to the B2B Growth podcast now.


  • Apple Music will replace Pepsi as the Super Bowl halftime sponsor.
  • The CEO of Fox Entertainment, Charlie Collier, is leaving to become president of Roku Media.
  • Facebook users are suing Meta, accusing the company of allegedly evading iOS privacy rules by tracking activity in its in-app browser.
  • Speaking of privacy, health apps are sharing some data with advertisers, and HIPAA can’t stop it, according to a Washington Post investigation.
  • Many companies in the UK participating in a four-day workweek pilot program said they’ve seen no loss—and sometimes improvement—in productivity.


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3. No pumpkin spice here.


Written by Ryan Barwick, Katie Hicks, and Jack Appleby

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