The Federal Trade Commission has settled “history sniffing” allegations with defunct online ad network Epic Marketplace Inc., whose parent company was Epic Media Group LLC. The agreement bans Epic from using the practice and requires it to destroy all data collected by that means.
The FTC’s announcement makes no mention of Kinetic Social, a company that is led by former Epic CEO Don Mathis and employs numerous former Epic employees. In a May story, AdExchanger noted the extensive similarities between the companies. We observed based on LinkedIn and other sources that Mathis and many other employees appeared to have taken jobs with Kinetic around the same time. The likeness extended to website copy, some of which was identical between the two companies.
Epic was first accused of “history sniffing” in July of 2011. Several months later the Network Advertising Initiative said in a November 2011 blog post that a “legacy advertising system” from Epic’s ad network Traffic Marketplace (acquired with Connexus in 2010) was behind for the history sniffing practice.
Then in August, the NAI said Epic Media Group had ceased operations “for economic and financial reasons.” Therefore it’s unclear why the FTC describes the company in the present tense. “Epic Marketplace is a large advertising network that has a presence on 45,000 websites.” Anyway, the FTC’s consent order on its signature page has places for Epic CEO Mathis’s signature, along with that of president David Graff, but does not actually display those signatures.
The agency didn’t immediately return a call from AdExchanger.