Steer Clear of MFA Sites: Top Tips to Protect Your Ad Spend

Back to Blog - by Otniel Calderon

In today’s competitive digital landscape, every ad dollar counts. Advertisers are constantly striving to maximize their return on investment and ensure their brand is seen in the right places. However, in the race to get the best ad placement, fears surrounding ad fraud and low-quality placements can hinder these goals. Advertisers worry about their ads appearing on fraudulent or irrelevant sites, leading to wasted spend and diminished brand integrity. Addressing these concerns and ensuring you have the right set of tools in place to combat these concerns is crucial for achieving optimal ad performance and securing the best possible outcomes for your campaigns.

What are Made for Advertising Websites (MFAs)?

While ad fraud has been a concern amongst advertisers for years, Made for Advertising (MFA) sites are a more recent issue in the industry. In fact, the term “made for advertising” didn’t even exist in 2020. However, by 2021, MFA sites had grown to 15% of the ad-supported web, and by 2022, they represented 20%. By mid-2023, MFA sites were responsible for 30% of ad auctions. This rapid growth has put the entire industry on high alert.

So what are these sites? MFA sites are created primarily to generate ad revenue rather than provide valuable content to users. These sites often have high ad-to-content ratios and low-quality content, leading to low engagement and ineffective advertising.

7 Strategies to Avoid MFAs and Ad Fraud

Ensuring your ads don’t run on these sites is crucial to maintaining brand integrity and achieving optimal ad performance. Fortunately, advertisers can use numerous strategies and technologies to combat these problems. According to Forbes, research on digital display advertising shows that only 23% of marketers are very concerned about ad fraud, and 14% are unconcerned. Additionally, only 18% cited ad fraud and invalid traffic as the most significant digital display advertising challenge, placing it at the bottom of the list. This demonstrates that, with the right approaches, ad fraud can be effectively managed.

A trusted media partner like Digilant uses a combination of advanced strategies to ensure your ads are placed on high-quality, relevant sites. Here’s how we do it:

1. Use Allowlists and Blocklists

  • Allowlists: Curate a list of trusted websites where you want your ads to appear. These can include reputable news sites, industry-specific platforms, and well-known websites.
  • Blocklists: Maintain a list of known MFA and low-quality sites to block your ads from appearing on them.

2. Quality Verification Tools

Utilize pre-bid tools like DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) to analyze and verify the quality of ad inventory. These tools help identify and block MFA sites before bidding on the inventory.

3. Programmatic Platforms with Quality Controls

Leverage DSP platforms that offer advanced targeting and quality control features, allowing for the exclusion of low-quality sites effectively.

4. Direct Placements and Curated Inventory via PMPs

Develop partnerships with top-tier SSPs to curate high-quality marketplaces. Consider direct media buys with reputable publishers to ensure your ads appear on quality sites with established audiences.

5. Regular Campaign Monitoring and Optimization

Continuously monitor campaign performance. Look for unusual metrics like high bounce rates, low engagement, or low conversion rates, which can indicate ad placement on MFA sites. Adjust targeting and exclusions based on performance data.

6. Contextual Targeting

Use contextual targeting to place ads on pages relevant to your product or service, reducing the chances of appearing on irrelevant or low-quality sites.

7. Reviewing Site Lists from Ad Networks

Regularly review lists of sites where your ads have been displayed and remove any that appear to be MFA sites.

By implementing these strategies, Digilant ensures that your ads reach high-quality, relevant audiences, maximizing performance and return on investment. Here’s a quick checklist summarizing our approach:

Digilant’s Quick Checklist for Avoiding MFA Sites

  • Develop and maintain allowlists and blocklists
  • Utilize quality verification tools like DoubleVerify and IAS
  • Leverage programmatic platforms with advanced quality controls
  • Engage in direct placements and curated inventory via PMPs
  • Monitor and optimize campaigns regularly
  • Use contextual targeting
  • Review site lists provided by ad networks

Ensuring Brand Integrity with Effective Ad Strategies

By staying vigilant and proactive in avoiding MFA sites, Digilant helps you maintain brand safety and achieve your advertising goals. For more information on our approach to brand safety and quality control, feel free to reach out to our team.

For more information on how Digilant can help protect your brand and enhance your ad campaigns, contact a member of our team here.

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