Deceptive MFA Websites Are Sabotaging the Advertising Industry

Deceptive MFA Websites Are Sabotaging the Advertising Industry

February 28, 2024

Made for Advertising (MFA) sites are websites specifically designed to maximise advertising revenue, often with little to no valuable content or engagement for users. MFA sites typically deploy aggressive monetisation tactics like placing excessive ads on each page, using ads that block actual content, manipulating the user journey to increase ad clicks and utilising intrusive or deceptive ad formats.

MFA websites represent a major threat that could completely erode user trust and confidence in online advertising. MFA sites contain little valuable content, cramming dozens of intrusive ads onto pages through manipulative tactics that provide a terrible user experience.

MFA sites are optimised solely to generate ad clicks through deception. Some common attributes include:

  • Excessive ad density, breaching industry standards

  • Low-quality content lacking substance reducing conversions

  • Inorganic traffic spikes from bots/invalid activity

  • Misleading formats like pop-ups, overlays

  • Multi-page clickbait journeys with ads on each step

This focus on revenue over experience directly harms consumers, who grow increasingly cynical of intrusive ads and distrustful of online content quality.

  1. Two recent statistics spotlight the troubling growth of MFA websites optimised for ads over content quality:

  2. 21% of all digital ad impressions now occur on MFA’s rather than legitimate publishers (ANA 2022 study)

  3. Over 1 in 5 ads direct users to low-quality sites (ANA 2022 study)

  4. Over 35% of programmatic budgets flow into fraudulent MFA sites (IAB UK’s 2023 report)

  5. More than ⅓ of expenditure meant to support ethical journalism, fuels ad-heavy sites actively manipulating users

The statistics show that over a third of digital ad money and over a fifth of user views are now captured by MFA sites instead of legitimate publishers. These deceptive ad-heavy sites prioritise commercial exploitation over providing value to audiences. The huge syphoning of funds and attention to MFA sites instead of ethical publications threatens the sustainability of quality journalism and risks increasing consumer distrust in online information.

Urgent action in the digital advertising industry is essential to halt the destructive spread of manipulative sites focused solely on maximising advertising revenues by deceiving users.

Advertisers can reduce/optimise their path to supply so they do not tally up high fees. That way they don't have to bid so low in programmatic auctions to keep their CPM price efficient.

Additionally, by aggravating users through excessive ads, MFA sites prompt increased mainstream adoption of ad blockers, which severely impact revenues for legitimate publications respecting audiences. It also causes cautious advertisers to blacklist broad areas of inventory.

The widespread of MFA sites causes problems that hurt legitimate publishers. When advertisers see more MFA sites manipulating users with excessive ads, they often just avoid placing ads on big ranges of sites out of caution. But this automatic blacklisting cuts off the advertising money that quality journalism sites need to support their reporting.

On top of this, the frustrating ads on MFA sites drive more people to install ad blockers. These ad blockers then also block normal ads on truthful news sites, taking away more potential money for honest journalism.

Stopping the spread of tricky MFA sites is key so more advertising dollars can go to honest sites that create real value for readers. The digital advertising industry needs to become stricter on only making money from good sites, not bad sites that deceive people with too many ads. This can bring back trust between publishers, audiences and advertisers.

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