Clickbait is Alive and Well in the Ad Industry

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Despite extensive efforts to shut down clickbait advertising practices across the industry, the technique is alive and well and still being widely utilized, according to a report released this week from Adalytics, an ad-tech auditing firm.

In fact, findings of the report reveal that advertisers still appear to be spending millions of dollars on clickbait sites – also known as MFA’s, or made-for-advertising inventory.

We’ve all seen them. The shabbily written articles that force readers to continue clicking through screen after screen in order to keep reading the content. This format affords vendors greater opportunity to cram advertisements onto each page – typically arranged in crowded and difficult to read design placement. 

This isn’t a new discovery – more of an ongoing challenge – as Adalytics has released multiple reports that raise questions about Google’s transparency in advertising practices. Further, the Association of National Advertisers released a two-part study indicating 15 percent of programmatic, open-web advertising dollars were divvied out to MFA websites to the tune of $10 billion dollars last year.

Following the report’s release, numerous vendors of ad-tech pledged to remove MFA inventory from sales to advertisers in the private marketplace, known as PMP deals. Adalytics’ most recent report, however, revealed many brands are continuing the practice.

Rocky Moss is an ad-fraud researcher, and co-founder and CEO of DeepSee, which has helped develop industry guidelines around buying MFA inventory. He has publicly advised marketers to avoid using MFA sites.

“Just saying something is bad doesn’t move the needle one way or another,” he said. “But in audits we do for clients, it’s very clear when you track sales and revenue generation, [MFA sites] just don’t work.”

Why then does the clickbait industry continue to thrive and show no signs of disappearing, despite its deceptive and sensationalized nature? Keep reading here.

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