As the advertising industry wrestles with the growth of AI and evaluates the use cases and potential dangers, one threat deserves more immediate attention – inventory quality.
For years, advertisers have been aware of Made for Advertising (MFA) sites – websites that produce no value, are filled with intrusive ads, and whose sole purpose is to generate paid traffic to monetize questionable (at best!) content. These sites often look and feel like sites you may use daily, like the New York Times or your hometown newspaper, aiming to give the user a sense of familiarity; but behind the backdrop of perceived legitimacy lies what is often potentially harmful misinformation.
Because AI tools like ChatGPT can create massive amounts of content in just minutes, the rise of MFA sites will only continue to pose greater risks to advertisers. The Verge reports that job postings for AI Editors already exist, some with the expectation to “output 200 to 250 articles per week.”
Savvy marketers have addressed the issue head on, ensuring their client’s dollars are not spent on these placements. The issue is that not enough advertisers invest in the tools and people necessary to bypass those who try to game the system, and fall for the tricks of MFA publishers.
A recent report from the Association of National Advertisers revealed that 23% of programmatic ad spend is wasted – and 15% of that is wasted on MFA sites. Not only is this a major brand safety issue, but it’s contributing to a scheme that is becoming increasingly profitable for bad actors.
Unfortunately, platforms like Google continue to allow for the monetization of these sites by serving ads alongside this content, leaving advertisers carrying the bill. Ad platforms and brand safety vendors have not adequately tackled the issue head-on, and as AI generated content proliferates, it’s reasonable to assume that won’t change soon.
So what can advertisers do? The key is to meticulously vet inventory sources, create relationships with quality publishers, and remain vigilant on emerging issues that AI brings. Technology alone will not solve the issues that AI poses, but smart people will.
“The agencies and businesses who place their trust in us expect that we anticipate the nefarious or unintended consequences of emerging technologies,” said Brkthru Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Mellinger. “As part of our commitment to achieve their marketing objectives, our teams regularly review where their clients’ advertising is placed to ensure their budgets are spent effectively.”
And as the internet becomes more fragmented, more silos will be created. It’s important now more than ever to seek the well-lit sites on the web, so no client is ever in the dark.
At Brkthru, we have a team of experts following these stories 24/7. Want to make your ad dollars go further in this time of accelerated change? We’re all ears. firstname.lastname@example.org