Ad Quality concerns rise as AI-Generated content drives surge in MFA sites

DoubleVerify (DV) this week released a preview of its annual Global Insights Report on June 14, 2024. The report raises concerns about the growing impact of "Made for Advertising" (MFA) websites and the potential negative effects of AI-generated content on media quality.

AI-Generated content
AI-Generated content

DoubleVerify (DV) this week released a preview of its annual Global Insights Report. The report raises concerns about the growing impact of "Made for Advertising" (MFA) websites and the potential negative effects of AI-generated content on media quality.

MFA sites are websites primarily designed to display ads rather than offer genuine content. The report highlights a 19% year-over-year increase in MFA impression volume in 2023, according to DV's analysis of over one trillion impressions from more than 2,000 brands globally. This growth is particularly concerning as it coincides with the rise of Generative AI (Gen AI) tools, which can be used to automate content creation.

A commissioned survey by DV revealed that 57% of advertisers globally view AI-generated content as a challenge for the digital advertising ecosystem. Over half (54%) of those surveyed believe Gen AI has negatively impacted media quality. These concerns are further amplified by the finding that 50% of advertisers consider the increase in MFA sites and low-quality content as the biggest threat to the digital ad landscape.

While MFA sites may appear successful based on metrics like clicks and viewability, DV's research indicates a different reality. The report found that MFA sites deliver significantly lower attention levels compared to other media sources. For display ads, attention on MFA sites is 7% lower overall, and a staggering 28% lower for video ads.

These findings underscore the importance of attention-based measurement in the digital advertising landscape. Metrics like clicks and viewability can be misleading when evaluating ad effectiveness. Attention measurement considers factors like exposure time, screen share, and audibility to provide a more holistic view of ad engagement.

DV emphasizes the need for advertisers to adopt tools that can identify and avoid problematic MFA content. By prioritizing attention-based measurement and employing solutions to filter out low-quality content, advertisers can safeguard their investments and optimize campaign performance.

The rise of MFA sites fueled by Gen AI presents a challenge for the digital advertising industry. Advertisers are expressing concerns about the negative impact of low-quality content on media quality and campaign performance. The focus on attention-based measurement and the development of effective filtering tools will be crucial in navigating this evolving landscape.

Ad verification companies like DoubleVerify (DV) and Integral Ad Science (IAS) offer solutions designed to help advertisers identify and avoid MFA sites. These solutions leverage a combination of machine learning and human expertise to analyze website characteristics and traffic patterns. By filtering out suspicious websites, advertisers can reduce exposure to low-quality content and potentially improve campaign performance.

However, there are concerns surrounding the lack of transparency in the criteria used by these filtering tools. Advertisers may not always understand the specific reasons why certain websites are flagged as MFA. This lack of transparency can make it difficult for advertisers to assess the accuracy of the filtering process and potentially lead to the exclusion of legitimate websites from their campaigns.

Further collaboration between ad verification companies, advertisers, and publishers is necessary to establish clearer definitions of MFA criteria and improve the transparency of filtering tools. This will allow advertisers to make more informed decisions about their media buys and ensure that their campaigns reach engaged audiences within brand-safe environments. Ultimately, a collective effort is needed to address the challenges posed by MFA sites and ensure a healthy digital advertising ecosystem for all stakeholders.

The Nuance of MFA Sites: Balancing Content and Advertising

The distinction between a legitimate website and an MFA site lies in the primary purpose. While most websites incorporate some level of advertising to generate revenue, quality content remains the core focus. News websites, e-commerce platforms, and social media applications all rely on advertising to support their operations. However, their primary function is to provide users with valuable content, news, or a platform for social interaction.

MFA sites, on the other hand, are designed with the sole purpose of displaying ads. They often lack substantive content and may employ manipulative tactics to inflate metrics like clicks and viewability. These tactics can include deceptive ad placement, auto-playing videos with sound, or creating misleading headlines to entice user interaction. The user experience on an MFA site is often secondary to maximizing ad impressions, leading to lower attention levels and potentially negative brand associations for advertisers whose ads appear on such sites.

PPC Land is an international news publication headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. PPC Land delivers daily articles brimming with the latest news for marketing professionals of all experience levels.

Subscribe to our newsletter for just $10/year and get marketing news delivered straight to your inbox. By subscribing, you are supporting PPC Land. You can also follow PPC Land on LinkedIn, Bluesky, Reddit, Mastodon, X, Facebook, and Google News.

Know more about us or contact us via

Subscribe via email

Don’t miss out on the latest marketing news. Sign up now to get the articles directly in your email.