IAB Australia warns industry to reduce exposure to Made for Advertising sites

On June 18, 2024 Media Releases

For publication Tuesday 18th June 2024:  IAB Australia has issued a strong warning about Made for Advertising (MFA) sites, asking the Australian advertising industry to take the issue more seriously and work collaboratively to minimise ad spends on these sites as well as with any associated participants.  To assist understanding of the issue, the IAB Executive Tech Council has issued a Made for Advertising guidance paper with clear definitions and recommendations. 

Describing MFAs as a blatant waste of investment for brands that expose their ad campaigns to such sites, as well as noting MFAs are harmful for publishers that invest resources into quality content, IAB’s guidance paper also notes MFAs result in poor consumer experiences which erodes trust in the industry.

Jonas Jaanimagi, IAB Australia Tech Lead commented “Our goal with this document is to support each part of the ecosystem with guidance that will not only reduce exposure to MFA sites – but as a direct consequence, reduce wastage, benefit genuine publishers, ameliorate consumer experiences online and ultimately improve both campaign performance & advertising ROI.”

Our guidance is not exhaustive, but we highly recommend that buyers, sellers and vendors review and consider these recommendations.  We welcome feedback from all on our guidance,” said Jaanimagi.

IAB has indicated that it will be providing additional information later this year and has invited industry participants to provide case studies, analytics-based insights or further recommendations for consideration.

MFA, an acronym for Made-for-Advertising, epitomises a category of websites built on catchy headlines, clickbait, and controversial content to drive traffic and ad revenue. Often sacrificing content quality, these sites inundate users with clickbait headlines, unnecessary slide shows, interlinked websites, intrusive ads and pop-ups in a relentless pursuit of revenue.  

MFA sites aren’t always sources of fraudulent inventory, however, once a brand’s campaign gets stuck in the world of MFA, the main issue becomes clear — MFA websites simply do not drive meaningful results and lead to wasted ad spend.  

Media quality concerns regarding MFA websites are increasingly significant for advertisers. In June 2023, the ANA released a report indicating that 21% of impressions and 15% of spending via programmatic buying in the US were wasted on MFA sites. These websites typically rely on attention-grabbing headlines, clickbait, and controversial content to boost page views and ad revenue. MFA sites often provide substandard content and employ tactics such as pop-up ads, auto-play videos, and other intrusive advertising methods to maximise revenue.