DoubleVerify unveils trends in Made for Advertising sites content patterns

New research reveals MFA sites focus on evergreen content, avoiding time-sensitive topics like news and sports.

DoubleVerify unveils trends in Made for Advertising sites content patterns

DoubleVerify today released a preview of findings from its eighth annual Global Insights Report. The research, which analyzed over one trillion impressions from more than 2,000 brands across 100 markets, sheds light on the content patterns of "Made for Advertising" (MFA) websites. This comprehensive study, conducted throughout 2023, reveals significant differences in content types between MFA sites and other media outlets, highlighting the evolving landscape of digital advertising and the challenges it presents to advertisers.

According to DV's analysis, MFA websites demonstrate a clear preference for evergreen content, focusing on topics such as health and fitness, travel, and family and parenting. These sites are 99% more likely to cover travel, 57% more likely to feature family and parenting content, and 47% more likely to discuss health and fitness compared to other media outlets. Conversely, MFA sites show a marked aversion to time-sensitive topics, being 95% less likely to cover news and 56% less likely to feature sports content.

This trend towards evergreen content on MFA sites can be attributed to several factors. Collette Spagnolo, VP of Marketing Analytics at DoubleVerify, suggests that these topics are easily recycled across multiple websites using generative AI tools. This approach allows MFA site operators to maximize content production while minimizing effort and resources, potentially leading to higher profit margins.

The rise of MFA sites and their content strategies must be understood within the broader context of the digital advertising ecosystem. In June 2023, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) reported that MFA sites accounted for 21% of all programmatic ad impressions and attracted 15% of total advertising spend. This significant market share underscores the importance of understanding and addressing the challenges posed by MFA sites.

Furthermore, DV's research revealed a near-20% year-over-year increase in MFA impression volume, indicating that these sites are not only maintaining their presence but actively growing their reach. This growth trajectory raises important questions about the future of digital advertising and the potential impact on advertisers' strategies and budgets.

To better understand the nature of MFA sites, it's crucial to examine their defining characteristics. According to DoubleVerify, these sites typically exhibit a high ratio of ads to actual content, with ads frequently refreshing to maximize profit from a single visit. They also heavily rely on paid traffic sources, such as social and native advertising, with little to no organic traffic. The content on MFA sites is often designed to keep users endlessly scrolling or clicking within the same site, and it's not uncommon to find content duplicated verbatim across various websites. Additionally, these sites tend to have low ad intensity, which DoubleVerify defines as a comparison of the viewable time duration of an ad to the DV benchmark.

The prevalence of these characteristics raises concerns about the quality of user experience and the value provided to advertisers. While MFA sites may deliver impressions, the nature of their content and user engagement patterns may not align with the goals of many advertisers seeking meaningful connections with their target audience.

The implications of these findings extend beyond mere content preferences. As generative AI continues to advance, Spagnolo anticipates that MFA sites will become more sophisticated, posing new challenges for advertisers striving to maintain brand integrity. The ability of these sites to mimic legitimate content sources may increase, making it more difficult for advertisers to distinguish between high-quality placements and those that may not serve their brand's best interests.

The findings of this study have significant implications for various stakeholders in the digital advertising ecosystem. For advertisers, the prevalence of MFA sites and their content strategies necessitates a reevaluation of media buying practices. Brands may need to implement more stringent criteria for ad placements, potentially leveraging advanced technologies to identify and avoid MFA sites that don't align with their marketing objectives.

Ad tech companies and platforms, on the other hand, may see an opportunity to develop more sophisticated tools for identifying and categorizing MFA sites. As these sites become more adept at mimicking legitimate content sources, the demand for advanced detection and classification technologies is likely to increase.

Publishers of high-quality, original content may find themselves at a crossroads. The proliferation of MFA sites could potentially dilute the value of premium inventory, forcing legitimate publishers to find new ways to differentiate themselves and demonstrate the value of their content to advertisers.

For consumers, the implications of this trend are somewhat mixed. While MFA sites may provide easily accessible content on popular topics, the quality and depth of this content may be questionable. Moreover, the heavy ad load typically associated with these sites could lead to a suboptimal user experience.

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