With the rise of Programmatic Advertising, there are opportunities to place your ads just about anywhere. Unfortunately, anywhere now includes made-for-advertising sites (MFAs). These websites have become integrated with the advertising ecosystem with the sole purpose of increasing their profits and completely disregarding the customer experience. 

What are MFA Sites?

Have you ever gone to a website and immediately been bombarded with display and video advertisements across your screen? If so, you have fallen victim to the dreaded MFA site. These web pages are designed to generate revenue through online advertising, in turn creating a horrible user experience with their immediate influx of ads. 

MFA sites are created to attract traffic to their websites through search engines and social media platforms instead of earning organic traffic. This allows MFAs to bypass the criteria of being flagged as invalid traffic through brand safety tools and increase their page views. Luckily, brand safety platforms are beginning to update their AI site detection so they can flag these sites. By using superficial or compiled content and enticing headlines, MFAs can maximize their page views and increase their opportunities to display advertisements. 

Why Should We Worry?

MFA sites are a large concern for anyone in the programmatic industry because millions of dollars are spent on these low-quality sites that are doing more damage than good when it comes to your marketing efforts. Ads get lost in the sea of ad spam on these sites, causing potential customers to overlook your advertisements or ignore them altogether. 

Accidental or false clicks on your ads are another downfall of MFA sites. Users are likely to click on your ad by mistake due to the setup of the website. This will inflate your CTR while decreasing your efficiency. Having your ads on websites with questionable content and clickbait headlines is another downfall of these sites that can ruin the perception of your brand image.

Lastly, while MFAs may boost your click rates and website traffic, they are diminishing your mid and lower-funnel efforts. You will begin to see lower conversion rates and decreased return on ad spend throughout your campaign if you’re running on these sites frequently.

How to Avoid MFAs

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely escape these sites, but there are some things that you can do to limit exposure. Pulling inventory lists of where your ads are shown is a great place to start. This will allow you to individually look over the sites that you’re spending money on and actively exclude any spammy inventory from your advertising efforts. 

Increasing your direct buys and working with more supply-side platforms (SSPs) and publishers who focus on brand suitability will also have a positive impact on the effectiveness of your campaigns. You will begin to appear on less and less of these MFAs which should increase your performance in the long run. One of the biggest changes that can be made is working with a brand safety platform, like Integral Ad Science or Double Verify, which can detect and report on these sites.

Navigating the Web Moving Forward

Made-for-advertising sites represent a unique and problematic segment of the programmatic landscape. The primary goal of these sites is generating revenue at the expense of providing quality content and a positive user experience. Luckily, there are steps that we as advertisers take to reduce our risk of appearing on these sites and protect our brand perception.