Media snippets of the week – The crackdown on MFAs

A few months ago the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) sounded the alarm on Made for Advertising (MFA) sites, after investigating how they are impacting the advertising ecosystem. Thanks to the rise of Gen AI and the simplicity of churning out quick and dirty content, we've seen a sharp increase in MFAs online. As discussed in our snippets before, these sites are created purely for ad purposes and showcase lower-quality content with poor user experience. They can pose security threats and waste advertisers' funds. The ANA estimates that around 15% of ad spend gets wasted on MFAs. However, we're now witnessing industry participants stepping up actions to safeguard brands. GroupM, one of the largest Media agencies owned by WPP announced that it has added protections against MFAs across all its inclusion lists. These lists consist of approved websites where clients' programmatic budgets can be safely allocated. And it's not just them - ad tech vendors like Magnite, Sharethrough, and PubMatic are also cracking down on MFAs, blocking them from their platforms. The move by GroupM and the ad tech platforms are setting a precedent, and we believe we will see others follow suit. In other news, Instagram is testing the waters by extending the duration of Reels to 10 minutes, to compete with the likes of TikTok and YouTube. Despite the economic uncertainty, WARC reckons global advertising will hit $1tn next year. And in the latest chapter of the Telegraph saga, the Barclay family fights back.


News of the week

GroupM removes MFAs from inclusion lists
GroupM, one of the largest media agencies, has taken steps to vet potential made-for-advertising (MFA) sites within its programmatic business. The agency has added protections against MFAs across all its inclusion lists, which are sets of approved publisher websites used to inform where clients' programmatic advertising budgets are spent. GroupM's inclusion lists are now vetted against Jounce Media's list of MFAs, updated daily based on six KPIs. This move is in response to increasing concerns from marketers about their ads appearing on MFA sites. GroupM's decision to proactively remove MFAs from their programmatic businesses sets a precedent within the advertising industry, challenging the vanity metrics MFA sites often use. The integration of Jounce's technology into GroupM's vetting process is seen as a significant development, likely to be followed by others in the industry. Digiday


Instagram trialing the lengthening of reels
It has been leaked that Instagram is internally testing a feature to extend the duration of Reels from 3 minutes to 10 minutes. This follows in the footsteps of TikTok which expanded its video lengths to a maximum of 10 minutes back in February. Expanding the video lengths allows for more flexibility for content such as cooking demos, beauty tutorials, and educational content. If implemented, this change will not only enhance Instagram's competitiveness against TikTok but also position it to compete with platforms like YouTube, known for their long-form videos. Instagram has also been testing other features, such as allowing creators to share notable fan comments on their posts and Reels to their Stories, and enabling users to add music to their photo carousels. Tech Crunch


WARC estimates global ad spend to hit $1tn next year
Marketing analytics firm WARC is forecasting global advertising spend to exceed $1tn next year, marking 8.2% growth in 2024. This will be an acceleration from the 4.4% increase in 2023. This rise is largely driven by five tech giants - Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, ByteDance, and Meta - which collectively account for over half of global ad revenue. Their share is predicted to reach 51.9% next year (from 50.7% in 2023). Other growing categories include retail media and connected TV, led by Amazon and Alibaba, and are expected to account for 13.6% and 3.2% of total spend respectively. The U.S. holds the largest share of global ad spend, although it is projected to decrease from 32.2% in 2022 to 31.3% in 2024. The overall growth in ad expenditure is expected to be driven by the financial services, technology/electronics, and pharma/healthcare sectors. Ad Age, WARC


Rumours that Future exploring a sale of B2B business
Sky News broke this week that Future had appointed advisors to explore the sale of its B2B operations. So far it is unclear if the company is looking to dispose of some or all of its B2B assets. Future has 35 B2B brands under its belt, which includes IT Pro, Music Week, the Technology Leaders Summit and TV Tech. It is believed the sale will also include SmartBrief, the digital newsletter platform acquired in 2019 for an initial consideration of $45m. In recent times, the B2B business has performed resiliently. For FY22E, it accounted for c.8% of revenues, which amounted to c.£67m with 12% organic revenue growth. Newsletter advertising in SmartBrief commands some of the highest yields within the group as the B2B audiences are deemed as having superior value. JEGI Clarity, a media-focused advisory firm is said to have been engaged to explore the sale. The transaction could lead to a refocusing of Future on its consumer facing brands. The company has not made a comment. Sky News


The sale of the Telegraph; return of the Barclay family

After weeks of conjecture regarding the potential buyers of The Telegraph Group, it was recently reported that The Barclay family is making strides to regain control of the group. They are backed financially by undisclosed investors based in Abu Dhabi. Lloyds, who took over the debt-ridden business a few months ago, had initially planned to auction the asset in Autumn. However, under the new proposal, the Barclay family and their co-investors aim to repurchase up to £600m of the Telegraph Group's debt. This is a discount on the £1bn owed, but it would result in a significant writeback for Lloyds. The Barclays' bid might encounter regulatory hurdles due to the participation of foreign investors and potential issues related to media plurality. Other potential bidders in the fray include Lord Rothermere, the owner of the Daily Mail, and National World, a regional newspaper business. The Barclays are optimistic about convincing Lloyds that their bid would not necessitate a protracted clearance process. The Guardian


Other news

  • Meta launches web version of Threads The Guardian
  • YouTube starts Music AI incubator Reuters
  • IPG Mediabrands partners with Google’s Gen AI models for brands Ad Age
  • Spending continues for podcasts Digiday