Affiliate marketing and ad network Tatto Media was acquired by Ozura World for $60 Million in cash and stock yesterday. Tatto Media was founded by Babson College grads in 2005 and in 2009 was the third largest advertising platform – delivering billions of targeted advertisements with revenues well above $40 million.

Tatto’s founders were all named to Business Week’s top 25 under 25 in 2007 and in 2008, Tatto Media was named Top Global 250 company by AlwaysOn.

“Mobile advertising is one of the fastest growing market segments in the online advertising space, particularly in Asia. This acquisition adds to the value of what both companies can bring to both Asia and North America,” said Lin Miao, CEO of Tatto Media.

“We are very proud to join the Ozura family and achieve our goal of becoming one of the largest mobile advertising networks worldwide,” said Andrew Bachman, President of Tatto Media.

Even though Tatto has seen massive growth in recent years, they have done so in what appears to be rather questionable practices. Here is an excerpt from their Wikipedia page. Yes, I understand Wikipedia is not the most accurate source, but they cite, TechCrunch, MediaPost and the Washington Attorney Generals Office.

In late 2008, the company was the subject of investigation into false and deceptive advertising with the Washington State Attorney Generals Office.

On November 17, the company and Washington State Attorney General settled in Assurance of Discontinuance for $20,262 [3]

Tatto Media used to partner with Zynga but this business relationship was terminated in 2009. The CEO of Zynga, Mark Pincus, had following to say about Tatto Media:

We have worked hard to police and remove bad offers. In fact, the worst offender, tatto media [sic], referenced in the techcrunch article, had already been taken down and permanently banned prior to the post [6].

The company was criticized on a similar scam using free poster offers – including The Twilight Saga stars that tied a undisclosed monthly credit card subscription fee to the poster request.[10]

The company has been noted for running deceptive offers involving text charges and mobile subscriptions which often trick consumers into signing up for services.[11]

Tatto Media has repeatedly featured as a scam advertiser.[7][8] Quote from Techcrunch:

A typical scam: users are offered in game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey. Four simple questions are asked. The answers are irrelevant. When the user gets to the last question they are told their results will be text messaged to them. They are asked to enter in their mobile phone number, and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they’ve done that, they’ve just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription. Tatto Media is the company at the very end of the line on most mobile scams, and they flow it up through Offerpal, SuperRewards and others to the game developers.[9]

According to their website, Ozura World is the leading international developer and publisher for mobile games and wireless entertainment. Ozura has raised $53 million in total funding and is located in Hong Kong. According to Larry Tey, Ozura World’s chairman the acquisition will “significantly strengthen” the gaming company’s ability to connect advertisers to consumers.

We have reached out to Tatto Media and are awaiting their response.