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For several years, the digital advertising industry has grappled with an ugly, open secret – “Made for Advertising” sites. These websites, also referred to as MFAs, are designed primarily to host ads rather than provide genuine content. This raises significant concerns about the efficacy and ethics of digital marketing campaigns. While this highly viewable content may seem like a shortcut to gaining exposure, the reality is that this type of content is often far from beneficial for advertisers.  

Despite their ubiquity, MFAs present many challenges for advertisers seeking genuine engagement and meaningful interactions with their target audience. From questionable content quality to issues of ad fraud and diminishing returns, the allure of these sites often does not translate into positive outcomes for buyers. In fact, a 2023 joint industry report from the ANA, 4A’s, WFA, and ISBA found that MFAs “comprise 21 percent of impressions and 15 percent of ad spend.” Additionally, with this level of inefficiency, publishers and the SSPs that sell this type of inventory are increasingly placed under a microscope.  

In this blog, we will delve into the reasons why MFAs are detrimental to advertisers and explore how investing in these sites can ultimately lead to wasted ad dollars and diminished brand reputation.  

Adalytics Uncovers the Prevalence of MFAs 

Recently, Adalytics published the results of their study on advertisements seen on MFA sites. The report shows that many adtech companies are promoting tools to prevent ads from appearing on “Made for Advertising” (MFA) sites while simultaneously profiting from these very sites. Adalytics is critical of the industry’s hypocrisy in claiming to combat MFA sites while benefitting from the ad inventory they provide. The report underscores the need for greater transparency across the adtech ecosystem to address the issues caused by MFAs.  

“It is imperative for supply partners to place a high priority on maximizing advertiser return on investment (ROI) by directing media spend towards sites known for authentic performance metrics. This approach starkly contrasts with the inefficacy found on MFA sites, which do not provide the same level of genuine performance,” explains Brian Weigel, SVP, Operations for Cadent Aperture MX.   

“Including MFAs within an inventory source not only dilutes the quality but also adversely affects supply path optimization. This misallocation leads to a significant waste of advertiser media spend, which could otherwise be invested in more valuable inventory. With that said, it’s critical for buyers to work with trusted partners who can protect them from delivering on MFA supply—ensuring ads are placed in premium inventory that aligns with and supports the advertiser’s brand values, integrity, and marketing objectives.” 

In recent months, industry trade organizations have sought to fix some of the problems created by MFAs. First, there has been a concerted effort to establish criteria to identify MFA sites, acknowledging their detrimental impact on the digital advertising ecosystem. According to AdExchanger, the 4A’s working groups have suggested, “instead of labeling any site that buys traffic or has an above-average ad load as MFA, the group is urging the industry to focus on publishers that deliberately game programmatic monetization through ad arbitrage.” 

To maintain the integrity of digital advertising, more transparency and industry-wide collaboration is needed.  

Why Aperture MX Says ‘No’ to All MFA Sites 

Aperture MX does not allow MFA sites within our inventory, period. We ensure that buyers’ ad dollars are protected when accessing our marketplace by only offering premium inventory. Aperture MX is proud to be aggressively transparent and extremely selective with the type of publisher supply we provide – MFA sites are not allowed within our marketplace by default.  

In addition to our proprietary vetting process, we leverage the Jounce methodology and classification for MFA sites. So, if Jounce classifies a site as an MFA, we do not include the inventory within our marketplace. As a Jounce partner, we can validate that we do not run media on sites based on their classification. 

Notable features of Aperture MX include holistic audience planning, media activation, campaign analytics, enhanced brand safety, and direct publisher connections. 

  • Activate true, omnichannel advertising across cable, broadcast, OTT/CTV, FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV) channels, and digital extension, like display and online video (OLV). 
  • Avoid mystery inventory from unsuitable publishers by buying inventory procured through our direct relationships with premium publishers.  
  • Optimize supply path by directly connecting to carefully vetted publishers – including no resellers – and increase ROI by adjusting ad spend toward performant inventory that aligns with brand goals. 

Ready to learn how Aperture MX can support your digital and CTV campaigns?