We found more than 400 brands funding fake news sites and they didn’t even know

Aug 3, 2017 · 3 min read

At Storyzy we automatically detect Fake News sites with our unique A.I technology based on quote extraction. Like every other website, a majority of Fake News sites are also affiliated to ad platforms to monetize their content and eventually obtain revenues. In July 2017, we checked every ad that appeared on Fake News sites and we found out that more than 400 brands were advertising on these websites. These brands didn’t even know where they were advertising. And a majority of them would have probably removed their ads in advance if they had known where they would appear.

Under this framework, we contacted these brands appearing on Fake News sites for our business prospection and they said they were unaware of the fact that their ads were on these dubious sites.

This inconvenient placement of ads is the outcome of the programmatic advertising system. When a marketer or an advertiser runs a programmatic campaign, he doesn’t know exactly where his display ads will appear eventually. The herein ambiguity arises from various reasons including automatization, bidding, retargeting, etc. and also emerges from the opacity of the chain. The marketer or the advertiser might not pay specific attention at all to the eventual ad placement, due to his performance preference over ethical values, however for brands that have a strong brand image, the ad placement will entail more than significant importance, but a business pain. These brands have the highest priority to preserve their brand images as building such image is highly costly and could be established only in a long period, therefore association to Fake News sites or funding these sites will have more than detrimental outcomes.

There are different methods to prevent this issue. The first is to have a whitelist of websites where the advertiser agrees to place his ads. However it should be noted that in the programmatic advertising world, using such method do not allow advertisers to have a large target. The second method is to use a blacklist of sites where the advertiser doesn’t want his ads to appear on these sites. For a programmatic campaign, using a blacklist is regarded as the most appropriate solution as the advertiser can target people whom he wants to reach from a larger inventory and not from a limited whitelist. For reputable brands that have a strong brand image and want to preserve their brand asset, using a blacklist of fake news sites is definitely an obligation.

At Storyzy we provide an automated and continuously updated blacklist of more than 700 Fake News sites that publish false articles, rumors, conspiracy, propaganda, hoaxes, and pseudoscience. Storyzy uses an A.I technology which automatically compares similar speeches used by Fake News sites. We analyze more than 50,000 quotes per day from thousands of websites.

Get a free sample of Storyzy’s automated blacklist of Fake News (100 sites). You can visit these Fake News websites to find some examples of ads placed on Fake News websites:

Fake News: The Adobo Chronicles

Conspiracy Theory: ZeroHedge


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Storyzy provides to advertisers and media agencies a brand safety solution to avoid fake news context.

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