Ad Company Pulls Anonymous Attack Campaign Against Gantz, Funded by Likud

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File photo: Benny Gantz during an electoral campaign in Rishon Letzion, Israel, February 1, 2019.
File photo: Benny Gantz during an electoral campaign in Rishon Letzion, Israel, February 1, 2019. Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP

An Israeli content marketing company removed an anonymous campaign on behalf of the Likud targeting Benny Gantz because the company does not run political campaign material.

Taboola is an Israeli company that promises to draw traffic to sites by “microtargeting” users, promoting stories its customers want by placing them in the “recommended for you” and in the "around the web” slots at the bottom of other stories, usually news articles. 

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A few days ago, the company began promoting stories from the Israeli paper Maariv about the closing of Fifth Dimension, an Israeli security technology startup that Gantz previously chaired.   

The company, however, began to suspect the campaign it was getting paid to run was actually a negative political campaign aimed at Gantz, the head of the Hosen L'Yisrael party, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival in the upcoming election.

The campaign against Gantz was paid for by the Argentaro and Felix advertising agency, which is the media buyer for the Likud election campaign. Taboola does not run political campaigns and informed the agency, owned by Felix Gutcovitch and Gili Argentaro, that it was ending the campaign.

Likud declined to comment.

Taboola, founded in 2007 by Adam Singolda, provides users with recommendations for stories they might want to read based on their browsing history. The company's headquarters are located in New York, but it has a development center in Israel. 

Likud is the only party that has consistently opposed any oversight by the Central Elections Committee on anonymous advertising. Last month, Likud informed the Elections Committee that the party opposed any legislation before the April 9 election that would ban anonymous campaign advertising on the internet. Likud also objected to the idea, proposed by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee Supreme Court justice Hanan Melcer, for all parties to sign a joint pact on banning such advertising – instead of legislation.

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