Report: 'Problematic' Ads Fund $235 Million On Disinformation Sites

Advertisers are wittingly or unwittingly spending more than $235 million on more than 20,000 sites known to spread disinformation, according to findings of a forthcoming report from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI).

The figure from the report, which will be published next month, was discussed Sunday morning during a segment of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

"We took our catalog of about 20,000 sites that we've collected that we assess having a risk of disinforming the public," GDI Chief Technology Officer Danny Rogers explained during the segment, adding: " Among those we took a sampling and measured a number of different aspects of those sites, including the traffic, the ad tech ecosystem elements in which -- with whom they interact and we tried to make as conservative an estimate as possible on things like how much money they make per visitor and what those traffic numbers."

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Rogers continued that these advertisers often don't know where their ads are ending up due to the complicated nature of their programmatic ad buys, but he recommended they demand "more transparency" from the ad-tech platforms that serve them in order to help police the publishers their ad budgets are supporting.

While GDI has not previously provided a benchmark estimate for ad spending on disinformation sites, it published a white paper ("Cutting The Funding Of Disinformation: The Ad Tech Solution") in May delineating how disinformation makes its way through the ad-technology ecosystem, sometimes in nefarious ways.

4 comments about "Report: 'Problematic' Ads Fund $235 Million On Disinformation Sites".
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  1. Rick Furr from Bullseye Interactive Group, August 19, 2019 at 10:52 a.m.

    Interesting article, I'd like to see more research, I noticed you have professional media at Stage 5, what grading did you provide Liberal Networks for falsely reporting the news or misleading the public, known as "Fake News". 

    You are so true about social media ads, have no clue about their truly reporting accurate eyeballs, however reporting "Fake News" is more serious, you are trying to switch the consumer's behavior by reporting inaccurate news. In my opinion, that is 10X worse than misleading the public on the number of eyeballs that will see your ad... 

    Rick Furr
    CEO, Bullseye Interactive Group 

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, August 19, 2019 at 11:05 a.m.

    @Rick Furr: We'll report on the full findings as soon as its released by Global Disinformation Index next month.

    Re. grading professional media, that's also GDI's ranking, pulled from their previous report, which you can link to and download from the article we published.

    Ultimately, these are all value judgements, but at least GDI has some method and criteria for valuing them.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 19, 2019 at 3:05 p.m.

    Cure: Advertiser - EIther they get the right to know every site and have the ability to pull their ad from any site they deem inappropriate for any reason or they are gone. Oh, that will never happen. Greed, pure and simple. An agency would then have to spend more for more time and money to buy more individual sites not just for a clean buy, but a conscious buy. Those who support people who pull the trigger are responsible for the chaos and death, too. Those who allow ads on the sites for the trigger pullers are the supporters. It's only a 3 step chain. Some changes must be forced.  "We have met the enemy and it is us."

  4. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, August 19, 2019 at 4:34 p.m.

    Good article.  There is a final group that I would consider that is missing.  This would be method. This means what is the instrument that is being used in the message. I am emailed nearly daily, fake sweepstakes to ad to our website. This is fruitless because we add only only quality name brands sponsors. For security we hand place all sweep ads.  The bad guys get stopped in their tracks.

    Second are fake data miners with coupon and discount offers.  They pose as vendors with great offers on a products. They are sent mostly by emails but as your article suggest, social media comes into play.

    Last, I have posted about going back to hand place ads again. This is the best security of ads that there is. However the advertisers are led to believe that programmatic is their only choice fror distribution.  Yes, it is cheap and fast but programmatic is like driving a car down a two lane road at night with no headlights. Something bad will happen.  

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