GroupM cracks down on MFA sites amid push for programmatic cleanup

GroupM cracks down on MFA sites amid push for programmatic cleanup

Dive Brief: 

  • WPP’s GroupM is partnering with programmatic supply chain management company Jounce Media for added protections against ad placements on Made For Advertising (MFA) — a.k.a clickbait — websites and domains, according to a company announcement.  
  • The partnership enables GroupM to integrate Jounce’s technology into its existing campaign-planning processes and is designed to combat the increasing speed, scale and sophistication with which MFA sites are being created and populated with content.  
  • Additionally, GroupM claims the partnership will increase the agency’s sustainability efforts by reducing the carbon footprint associated with MFA websites. The tie-up arrives as advertisers continue to seek optimal investments in a tightened spending environment.

Dive Insight: 

As marketers fret over the effectiveness of their digital strategies and tighter budgets, GroupM and Jounce’s partnership could bring more transparency to media investments. The announcement rides on the heels of notable findings by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) that indicate brands are wasting 15% of their programmatic ad spend — or about $13 billion total — on low-quality MFA sites.

Additionally, the ANA’s study revealed the average campaign runs on 44,000 websites, though the majority of audiences can be reached by running ads on just a few hundred. The ANA, a trade group representing marketers, cited several factors contributing to the trend, most notably the tendency of programmatic buying to prioritize cost savings over audience value and a lack of transparency into inventory. GroupM and Jounce’s agreement is meant to address both of those concerns. At the same time, the rise of generative artificial intelligence has sparked worries that junk MFA publishers could proliferate more quickly. 

“The challenges associated with MFA domains are likely to grow even more complex as the media ecosystem continues to evolve rapidly,” said Rory Latham, GroupM’s senior director of global investment for programmatic, in a statement. “Our partnership with Jounce reflects our continued commitment to deliver relevant ads that deliver meaningful value for our clients and their audiences.” 

The ANA study also bolsters the benefits of buying through the GroupM Premium Marketplace, according to the announcement, an offering from the agency that promises transparency and efficiency around dollars spent in hopes of delivering better business results. The partnership is meant to further protect client campaigns from an advertising presence in low-quality locations.

Aside from potential advertiser savings, GroupM anticipates that its partnership with Jounce will enhance the sustainability of its media supply chain by reducing the higher carbon footprint associated with MFA sites. According to Scope3 findings cited in the ANA report, MFA inventory carries 26% higher carbon emissions compared to non-MFA inventory. 

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