Almost 10% of programmatic ad spend in the US goes to low-quality, low-value websites designed to trick advertisers, according to a study from Ebiquity. Effectively, that proportion of ad spend goes to articles that just flood the user with endless ad units that swamp the content itself. It games the ad verification system that looks for ad fraud – but at the cost of CPMs and ad effectiveness.
According to Ebiquity, that behaviour is currently a blind spot for most major ad verification platforms. MFA sites typically buy web traffic through sponsored posts (“often clickbait”), placing a high volume of ads in viewable areas, which technically meets the requirements for the verification platforms.
But, other than the clickbait claim, doesn’t that just sound like… local news sites? Especially in the UK, the drive to fill every available pixel with ads is having a deleterious effect on both legibility and quality of the content. Feels like we should be worried when the legitimate content of local news is delivered in the same way as these MFA sites designed specifically to trick advertisers.
A senior Facebook executive has reportedly told employees that the News tab and Bulletin newsletter platform will be put on the back burner. Without giving any credit at all to Facebook – because it deserves none – it’s hardly surprising that the platform is cutting ties with publishers. That’s what comes from publisher short-sightedness about the direct-payments-from-platforms goldmine.
We’ve spoken about Industry Dive on the podcast before. There’s always value in that deep expertise that B2B publishers aspire to, but it’s great to see investment in specialist journalism pay off – the business media company has grown to $100 million in revenue in a decade.
I’m extremely – extremely – sceptical of the idea that big tech should directly fund journalism. So even this halfway house argument fails to convince me it won’t lead to abuse. But nevertheless, it’s a well-argued piece about how “just as gas taxes go toward road maintenance, ad taxes should go toward journalism.” And speaking of…
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