Google serves 48% of all ad traffic on “fake” news sites according to a new study by researchers Lia Bozarth and Ceren Budak from the University of Michigan School of Information.

The researchers analyzed the advertising on the sites from a list titled “Sources of False, Misleading, Clickable and / or Satirical Information” created by Melissa Zimdars, a specialist in critical media studies at Merrimack College.

Research by Bozarth and Budak indicates that even though big players like Google receive negligible revenue from advertising on these fraudulent news websites, they are still “responsible for showing a substantial fraction of ads on false and shoddy news sites “.

The study “adds to the argument that interventions aimed at reducing market incentives for misinformation and disinformation can be effective”, wrote Justin Hendrix for TechPolicy.

Additionally, “the researchers found that the ‘Top 10 Credible Ad Servers’, such as Lockerdome and Outbrain, account for 66.7% of counterfeit ad traffic and 55.6% of low-quality ad traffic,” said Ryan Barwick for Marketing Brew.

Why we care Brand security has been a real concern for advertisers and their customers for the past few years. This has been a priority as more and more search marketers find their advertising content is being shown alongside negative, bogus, and downright spammy sites. Google’s 2020 Ad Safety Report focused on sensitivity to the “need for brands to control where their ads are displayed, as there was an increase in hate speech and calls for violence online.” we wrote earlier this year. But the new data indicates that unless advertisers pay close attention to their exclusion lists, they may appear alongside false information and misleading content online.


About the Author

Carolyn Lyden is the Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search and analytics, she focuses on making it easier for marketers to work with important insights and educational content.

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