My Nomination For The ANA's Marketing Word Of The Year: MFAs

Based on the timing in previous years, the Association of National Advertisers should be releasing its annual "marketing word of the year" any day now, but in today's column, I'm going to nominate "Made-for-Advertising."

Okay, so it's not a singular word, but the ANA has done that previously naming "brand purpose" in 2018, "artificial intelligence" in 2017 and "content marketing" in 2015. So why not?

I have no inside information about the ANA's process, but I would be surprised if MFAs are not at least in the consideration set, given the amount of focus that has been on them ever since it began doling out reports based on its extensive programmatic transparency studies earlier this year -- something that has also inspired a new cottage industry supply chain of analytics, brand safety and programmatic filtration providers to rush to market with their own solutions for weeding out the MFA culprits, which by the ANA's benchmark analysis represent 15% of the $88 billion spent on programmatic website advertising buys.



This morning, one of those suppliers -- analytics firm Pixalate -- released its own initial benchmark for MFAs, estimating they currently represent 11% of programmatic ad spending.

That's certainly in the ballpark of the ANA's findings, but because I'm a stickler -- and a journalist who is supposed to ask questions -- I asked the Pixalate team why the difference, and whether its data might show if the share of programmatic spending going to MFAs has been trending down.

They said they didn't know, because this is their benchmark, but they will be coming back to track it sometime in the near future.

In other words, there is a little bit of apples-to-oranges in the ANA's and Pixalate's analyses.

The ANA's represents an in-depth analysis of log-file data supplied by 21 members representing $123 million in actual ad spending that was conducted about a year ago -- between September 2022 and January 2023.

Pixalate's analysis was conducted in October -- about a year later -- and was based on its data-science team's analysis of 12 billion-plus open programmatic ad impressions.

So it's probably not appropriate to dwell on the marginal differences in the magnitude of the two MFA share analyses. But the Pixalate study does offer some new and worthwhile analyses on the composition of the market, including the fact that geographically, MFAs account for 16% of North America's programmatic buys, while it's only 6% of APAC of the EMEA.

I recommend getting a copy of Pixalate's analysis if you want to understand some of the granular details about MFAs, including qualitative things like the share of invalid traffic, viewability, etc., as well as who some of the leading publishers are.

But here's a little preview below in case you want to remove them from any of your inclusion lists.

4 comments about "My Nomination For The ANA's Marketing Word Of The Year: MFAs".
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  1. Michael Zaneis from TAG, December 7, 2023 at 12:08 p.m.

    It certainly would be befitting given all of the attention on MFAs. As for true benchmarking, a smaller industry group led by the 4As is working on a definition for MFA (or Made For Arbitrage as the 4As suggests). Given the major MFA list providers are part of this process as well, we should be getting closer to comparing apples to apples and to providing a realistic analysis of the economic impact of MFAs over time. That should in turn help good publishers stay away from bad practices that could get them flagged as an MFA. 

  2. Bill Duggan from ANA, December 7, 2023 at 3:55 p.m.

    Joe – “MFA” is indeed one of the finalists for the ANA 2023 Marketing Word of the Year. And the winner is … we hope to tell you on Monday!

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., December 7, 2023 at 3:59 p.m.

    @Bill Duggan: My runner up: "information asymmetry."

  4. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), December 12, 2023 at 1:44 p.m.

    My nomination is Log Level Data!

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