Disinformation actors are gaming the online advertising system for a quick dollar.
A system developed to help advertisers reach their audiences more effectively is being abused for money by those who want to disinform. This is not just the clickbait factories and “fake news merchants” that we all have read about. This includes other “news” domains higher up the food chain. It is an interconnected web built and exploited by those wanting to disinform.
The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) has made this network of actors the focus of its new report “Cutting the Funding of Disinformation: The Ad-Tech Solution.”
Based on our research, we have mapped out how there is an unchecked funding line provided to disinformation domains thanks to online ads automatically placed by ad exchanges on them.
As a former media company executive I know the importance of brand safety. The recent gold rush of money into ad tech has compromised brand safety as never before. Brands and even their agencies have lost sight of where their ads end up.
A whole range of ad-tech players has emerged to buy and sell online ads every time you load a web site – often without vetting the domains. Ad exchanges serve as their marketplaces.
The GDI is building an assessment – based on artificial and human intelligence – to fix this problem and assess in real-time the disinformation risk of news domains. The index will provide a ratings-based assessment based on metadata, contextual and content flags.
As outlined in the report, we believe the GDI ratings will give:
- Brands and media agencies greater control over whether their advertisements are being placed on risky sites.
- The ad-tech community non-biased feedback to direct ad money away from domains with high disinformation risks.
- Social platforms and search engines neutral ways to encourage the spread of information and rein in disinformation efforts.
- Online users greater context about the domains which they read, comment on, and share.
We see ad-tech as the solution to cut the funding of disinformation. We call on brands, ad-exchanges and platforms to join us in this work. It is time to end the financial incentives for domains to disinform our societies.