Brands unknowingly wasting ad dollars on Made for Advertising sites, claims report

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Brands unknowingly wasting ad dollars on Made for Advertising sites, claims report

Hundreds of major brands unknowingly have their ads served on Made for Advertising (MFA) websites.

Ads are being placed on these sites through both programmatic and non-programmatic channels, according to a new study by Analytics.

What are MFA websites? MFA websites are sites created primarily for profit through advertising and generally provide a poor user experience, potentially damaging the reputation of digital advertising overall. They often have poor-quality content and display a high number of ads. The Association of National Advertisers clarified:

  • “MFA websites have a High percentage of paid traffic sourcing…and often have little-to-no organic audience and are instead highly dependent on visits sourced from clickbait ads that run on social networks, content recommendations platforms, and even on the websites of reputable publishers.”
  • “Buying paid traffic is the primary cost driver of operating an MFA business. Overcoming paid traffic acquisition costs requires MFA publishers to engage in aggressive monetization practices and arbitrage.”

Misconceptions. Many companies are under the impression that their ad dollars are protected from being spent on MFA sites, according to Adalytics. This is why the platform decided to conduct an investigation into the efficiency of ad spend.

What is Adalytics? Adalytics is a crowd-sourced advertising performance optimization platform that was set up to review and improve the digital advertising landscape.

The study. Adalytics worked with a Fortune 500 company to assess their ad spend efficiency. Despite the Global Head of Media’s belief that their brand had minimal exposure to MFA inventory in 2023, Adalytics found that the brand spent over $10 million on MFA websites. This prompted Adalytics to investigate the extent of this phenomenon and how Fortune 500 brands’ ads can end up on MFA sites, both programmatically and non-programmatically.

Brands. The Adalytics study reviewed the campaigns of hundreds of major brands, including:

  • Procter & Gamble.
  • Johnson & Johnson.
  • Pfizer.
  • Ford.
  • NBC Universal.
  • US Army.
  • The Wall Street Journal.
  • Meta, and many others.

The results Adalytics identified the following key findings from their research:

  • Hundreds of ANA member and other brands continue to have their ads observed on MFA websites as of January 2024.
  • Several US government agencies and departments were exposed to MFA sites, including the US Army and Navy.
  • Thousands of brands appear to have their ads placed on Made for Advertising sites via the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • Many ad exchanges and supply side platforms (SSPs) continue to serve ads on MFA sites, including:
    • Google.
    • Criteo.
    • Smart AdServer.
    • OpenWeb.
    • Microsoft Xandr,and more.
  • Many demand side platforms (DSPs) have been observed transacting Made for Advertising inventory, including:
    • Roku OneView.
    • Yahoo DSP.
    • Google DV360.
    • Amazon DSP, and more.

Why we care. Adalytics uncovered a widespread misconception among advertisers that their ad dollars are not being wasted on MFA sites. The study contradicts this belief. Consequently, advertisers are strongly recommended to validate the functionality of MFA-blocking offerings to ensure they align with advertised capabilities and comply with policies.

What the ANA is saying. The Association of National Advertisers said in a report:

  • “It is essential for marketers to maintain vigilance. Taking your eye off the ball can lead to questionable inventory practices, thereby diluting the potential of programmatic advertising as a potent tool for driving results.”
  • “Due diligence is the most important posture in order for brands to leverage the opportunity for savings, improve efficiencies, and reduce the carbon footprint of their programmatic media activity.”

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Deep dive. Read the Adalytics study in full for more information.

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