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Leading trade groups define “Made for Advertising” websites

by | Sep 26, 2023

A consortium of marketing and advertising trade organizations have released a detailed definition of so-called “Made for Advertising” websites that the ANA said in a recent report comprise 21 percent of impressions and 15 percent of ad spend.

The group included the ANA, the 4A’s, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA). The MFA definitions were also developed in consultation with Chris Kane, founder of Jounce Media, and Rocky Moss, co-founder and CEO of  DeepSee.io. 

MFA sites, also referred to by the 4A’s as “Made for Arbitrage” sites, are created for that singular purpose—to simultaneously buy and sell advertising inventory. MFA sites typically use sensational headlines, clickbait, and provocative content to attract visitors and generate page views, which in turn generate ad revenue for the site owner, the ANA said. MFA sites usually feature low-quality content and may use tactics such as pop-up ads, auto-play videos, or intrusive ads to maximize ad revenue.  In its recent report, the ANA said MFA sites generally are designed to fool digital advertising buyers. MFA websites exhibit high measurability rates, good viewability rates, low levels of invalid traffic, and usually have brand-safe environments.

The trade organizations said MFA sites usually exhibit some combination of the following characteristics:

  1. High ad-to-content ratio
  • Usually at least twice the Internet average, e.g., ad-to-content ratio of 30+ percent for desktop.
  1. Rapidly auto-refreshing ad placements
  • Numerous refreshing banner ads.
  • Autoplay video ads flood the site.
  • Slide shows forcing visitors to click through multiple pages to access content, with multiple ads.
  1. High percentage of paid traffic sourcing
  • Made For Advertising publishers 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.
  1. Generic content (non-editorial or templated, low-quality content)
  • Often syndicated, dated and non-unique (articles regurgitated)

5. Usually poorly designed, templated website designs

The ANA said a high percentage of impressions and ad spend indicated that advertisers are not in control of their media placement decisions as much as they should be. In its recent report the ANA recommended that advertisers should determine, independently, if MFA sites fit with their brand suitability standards for content and user experience and clarify their tolerance for the inclusion of MFA inventory in their campaigns.

The recent ANA report, the ANA Programmatic Media Supply Chain Transparency Study, was designed to accelerate the ongoing industry discussion on transparency and productivity in the programmatic media supply chain. It was the first segment of a two-part report; the follow-up will be released later this year and will address additional issues including ad quality, pricing, and SSP optimization.

About the Author

Capitol Communicator

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Get more information by clicking on Capitol Communicator above.


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