May 12, 2023
Programmatically-placed ads for dozens of nonprofits and universities have been showing up on misinformation websites — including some that overtly conflict with the missions of major organizations paying for those ads, per new report release today.
Researchers at the news reliability rating service NewsGuard said they found ads for Planned Parenthood on a website promoting dangerous herbal abortion recipes. Elsewhere, ads for groups such as Amnesty International and The Red Cross were served on websites known for promoting pro-Russian propaganda related to the war in Ukraine. Other ads mentioned in the report include some for health organizations and U.S. colleges that showed up alongside online misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines.
The report illustrates the ongoing problem with programmatic platforms that some say remain too complex and opaque for proper accountability.
“It’s never going to be perfect,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group and co-founder of the Brand Safety Institute. “Even if you’re using a brand safety vendor, [and] have inclusion and exclusion lists, the problem is if you have a handful of ads on the worst kind of content, it does have an impact on your brands.”