MFA is merely ‘symptom of the big disease’

MFA is merely ‘symptom of the big disease’

Where does the buck stop with made-for-advertising (MFA) websites?

Perhaps the onus should be on advertisers to demand change so that their ads do not end up on low-value sites. Or what about media agencies? Or the responsibility could potentially lie with the rest of the supply chain of adtech, verification businesses and media auditors.

In a recent column, Nick Manning said the revelations from Adalytics regarding the domain-spoofing by Forbes were “shocking but merely the latest example” of the chaos in an ecosystem where “the supposed guardians of advertisers’ interests fail to do their job”.

He questioned where the media agencies, demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, content verification providers and media auditors were, since they are paid by advertisers to prevent this from happening.

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No financial incentive

Manning went one step further on The Media Leader Podcast, saying that the systems and people paid to filter this inventory are “not doing a very good job”, since “the financial incentive is not there” for the supply chain to change things.

For him, the Forbes scandal also highlighted that MFA was not only “a little backwater of rather dodgy sites” as previously thought.

Manning explained: “This is a symptom of the big disease; it’s not the disease itself. It’s one of the things that’s wrong with the system as it currently stands.”

Advertisers will need to demand change, as “nobody else will do it”, but he conceded: “We need new thinking on the advertiser side to help them do this, because the advertisers can’t do it on their own.”

Listen to an excerpt of that conversation here:

More collaboration needed

Charlotte Powers, head of digital at Bountiful Cow, had a different take, arguing that the responsibility needed to shift to media owners, not “placed solely” on agencies.

“Agencies are already doing everything within their power to exercise enhanced brand safety and verification measurement through adtech providers, all at an additional cost to clients,” she said.

“I fully advocate a collaborative way of working between publishers, media owners and agencies to deliver campaigns, but there has to be a far greater responsibility from those who own the content and the media space to ensure the ad inventory being sold is already as brand-safe as it can be.”

The IAB and Advertising Association declined to comment on this story. The IPA and Isba have been reached for comment.

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