Optus halts all marketing ad spend amidst ongoing cyber attack

As the fallout from the Optus cyber attack continues, new data from digital marketing intelligence platform, Pathmatics, showed that the mobile giant dropped its digital advertising spend from almost $55,000 on 21 September to under $5,000 on 22 September – the day that the crisis was announced.

Pathmatics data also revealed that the company has yet to reignite its advertising efforts, ten days after the hack, as an independent forensic review still takes place.

The platform also tracked competitor activity following the data breach, revealing that Telstra’s advertising spend rose from $140,000 on the day of the cyber attack to $180,000 three days later. In light of the Telstra staff data breach yesterday, Pathmatics said it will be keeping an eye on the company’s digital ad spend over the coming days too.

Vodafone proactively increased its advertising efforts with a particular focus on Facebook where its spend rose from just under $15,000 per day to almost $35,000 per day.

Exetel also ramped up its marketing efforts, with a significant spike in its advertising spend on September, 23 and 24 – the two days following the cyber attack.

Lyca Mobile’s advertising spend fluctuated with peaks in activity on the day of the cyber attack and the day following.

Boost Mobile’s advertising spend increased from $400 to $5,000 following the cyber attack from 22 September to 24 September.

Moreover, the research showed none of the telco companies is yet to include cyber safety messaging in their advertising, instead focusing on product and brand awareness.

Commenting on the trends, Pathmatics and Sensor Tower managing director APAC, Tom Cui told Mumbrella: “Optus’ decision to pause its advertising spend on the day of the cyber attack comes as no surprise. With approximately ten million Aussies impacted by the data breach, any proactive marketing activity would’ve been deemed insensitive. It’ll be interesting to see when Optus resumes its digital marketing activity and whether there’s a change in messaging, such as creatives centring more around data security.”

“The lull in activity from Optus has, however, created an opportunity for competitors to ramp up their advertising spend, getting in front of customers who may be looking to migrate. Telecommunications companies both big and small have upped their efforts in the days following the breach. With security top of mind for many consumers and businesses alike right now, I expect to see a rise in telco ads reaffirming their data privacy policies as the weeks continue,” he added.

On Monday, Optus said it has commissioned an independent forensic review into the cyberattack against the telco.

The review will be conducted by international services company Deloitte and will look into the cyberattack itself, Optus’ security systems as well as its controls and processes.

In June last year, Pathmatics, which counts Nestle, MediaCom, Target and Reddit among its clients, expanded into Australia and New Zealand

Pathmatics is led locally by regional director Eugene Du Plessis, who joined from Nielsen where he was commercial director, with a remit to grow the company’s local presence.

The company, which launched in 2011, offers brands and marketers ad spend insights across cross-digital, video, display and mobile (e.g. Facebook and Google), and allows them to keep an eye on competitor ad spend as well.


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