IAB warns buyers and sellers against Made for Advertising sites

MFA, an acronym for Made-for-Advertising, are a category of website that uses catchy headlines, clickbait, and controversial content to attract attention, engagement and ad revenue. Alongside the often dubious and frequently AI composed content, such sites also inundate users with copious and intrusive ads and pop-ups.

IAB Australia have released definitions and guidance around such sites, warning industry buyers and sellers of advertising that:

“These practices harm publishers that invest resources into quality content, result in poor consumer experiences which erodes trust and are simply a blatant waste of investment for any brands that expose their ad campaigns to MFA sites.”

ANA research from the US  showed that in 2023 15% of ad spend via programmatic buying was being wasted on MFA sites. IAB said that users on these sites are typically not very engaged, resulting in the advertiser not getting value for their money. The lack of engagement is from users responding to a clickbait headline then being bombarded with ads instead of getting what they came for.

An example MFA site content page from IAB Australia’s Definitions and Guidelines

MFA sites aren’t technically fraudulent and perform well in traditional ad metrics, like click through rates, but often through accidental or ‘forced’ clicks. This makes them appealing to advertisers when reviewing their verification reports against programmatic buying in particular. For a potential buyer though, advertisers run the risk of associating their brands with negative user experiences which then can impact brand perception and loyalty.

IAB Australia’s Made for Advertising definitions and guidelines document and additional resources can be found here: https://iabaustralia.com.au/resource/made-for-advertising-definitions-and-guidance/

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