Study Finds AI News Sites Proliferating, Underwritten By Blue-Chip Advertisers

One week after the Association of National Advertisers released an in-depth analysis estimating that blue chip advertisers are spending $13 billion annually advertising on so-called “made-for-advertising” (MFA) sites, a new report indicates many of them are also funding what likely is the fastest growing segment of them: unreliable AI-generated news and information sites.

Or as the report’s author NewsGuard describes them in a new industry acronym, UAINs.

While the report doesn’t put a dollar amount on the advertising buys funding UAINs, NewsGuard’s analysis identified 393 programmatic ads placed by 141 “major brands” on 55 such sites.

“These ads appear to have been generated programmatically, meaning that rather than the companies choosing to have their advertisements appear on these sites, they were positioned automatically through a system that places ads regardless of the nature of the website,” NewsGuard report notes, adding, “This programmatic approach thus funds low-quality and misinformation sites, while failing to protect  “brand safety,” with most of the ads placed by Google.”



That’s exactly the sort of unintended programmatic media-buying consequence the ANA warned of in its recent report, which advises advertisers to pay more human attention to the nature of their programmatic buys, even going so far as to negotiate access to, and delve into the intricate “log-level” data of the buys it places through programmatic platforms.

While the ANA report did not single out any advertisers or programmatic platforms as culprits underwriting what it calls MFAs, its report notes that the $13 billion in spending on those outlets is part of an $88 billion “open web programmatic media” buying marketplace dominated by Google Ads/Google DV360, Amazon, The Trade Desk, Meta’s Audience Network, Criteo and others.

“More than 90% of the ads NewsGuard identified — 356 of 393 — were served to NewsGuard by Google Ads,” NewsGuard report notes.

NewsGuard also disclosed this morning that the number of UAIN sites has jumped more than 240% to 217 in just nine weeks since it began benchmarking them via its new AI tracking center on May 1.

NewsGuard estimated that the 393 programmatic ads analyzed in its new report appeared on only 55 of the 217 sites, noting that some of them do not currently accept programmatic advertising.

“The ads NewsGuard found were served to analysts browsing the internet in four countries: the U.S., Germany, France, and Italy,” it said.

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