GroupM introduces new protections against Made For Advertising sites
GroupM has partnered with programmatic supply chain management company Jounce Media to introduce new protections against Made For Advertising (MFA) websites.
The measures, which use “advanced detection and domain-tracking technologies”, are designed to protect client campaigns from running against low-quality digital environments, leading to wasted media investment.
A June report by the Association for National Advertisers (ANA) found that MFA sites currently represent 21% of all online ad impressions, and 15% of adspend. The average campaign, meanwhile, was found to run on 44,000 websites in total, a “deeply concerning” figure, according to the ANA.
MFA domains include sites which use sensationalist headlines, clickbait, and other low-quality and provocative content to attract visitors. They are prone to issues involving ad fraud, viewability, and brand safety. Writing in reaction to the report in June, columnist Nick Manning called such sites “the lowest form of advertising (think toe fungus and cheap funerals)”.
“Most self-respecting brands should avoid it like the plague and may not even know they are advertising in it. It may be useful for some brands, but the internet would be a better place without it,” he added.
The report from the ANA, as well as recent studies from ISBA/PwC, have improved transparency on the health of the programmatic industry, revealing the need for significant reform to increase efficiency and effectiveness in digital advertising.
“We are continually working to protect our clients’ media investments,” said Rory Latham, GroupM’s Senior Director, Global Investment, Programmatic. “The challenges associated with MFA domains are likely to grow even more complex as the media ecosystem continues to evolve rapidly.
“Our partnership with Jounce reflects our continued commitment to deliver relevant ads that deliver meaningful value for our clients and their audiences. It not only strengthens our existing leading client campaign delivery processes we use to protect our clients’ budgets and reputations, but also ensures campaigns implemented by GroupM continue to maximize the value of every dollar for our clients in the most sustainable way possible.”
Manning told The Media Leader GroupM’s new protections against MFA sites represent “good news” for the industry.
“For too long the programmatic systems have been out of control and sometimes spraying ad content liberally without proper oversight,” Manning said. “It’s good to know that the ANA study has produced a quick reappraisal of the MFA market by the world’s largest media buying group.”
By eliminating exposure to MFA sites, GroupM additionally claims it can significantly improve carbon reduction efforts, as MFA sites have been found by recent research conducted by Scope3 and media consultancy Ebiquity to be especially carbon intensive.
According to Scope3, MFA sites are labelled alongside fraud as a subset of “climate risk inventory,” defined as “extremely high carbon domains, the worst emitting media properties.” Climate risk inventory was found to have 26% higher carbon emissions than other sites. Scope3 also found that MFA sites resulted in worse campaign performance, under-indexing in absolute performance by 30%.
“We have to remember that it was just 18 months ago that the industry started to consider the impact of digital advertising on the environment, and quantifying how harmful these sites in particular wasn’t really happening until early this year,” Lillie Ratliff, head of research and solutions at Scope3 told The Media Leader. “But now that robust ad emissions data exists, and we understand the risk, it’s obvious that the industry has to change.”
Ratliff continued: “In terms of budget and waste, there was always an understanding across the industry that this type of fraud existed. However, the motivation to identify and remove this was quite low. As the industry has refocused efforts both on sustainability and reducing waste, many advertisers are being more diligent about weeding out MFA from their media spend.”
In developing protections against MFA sites, GroupM thus further develops its efforts to accelerate the decarbonisation of the world’s media supply chain. GroupM is currently at the forefront of an advertiser coalition to help improve supply chain sustainability.
Other digital players have recently sought to similarly develop new tools for advertisers looking to measure and reduce their carbon impact on digital campaigns. This summer, Good-Loop created a new ‘block list’ tool for carbon heavy publishers, and Ozone launched a new initiative to allow advertisers the ability to measure carbon impact at a campaign level.