One Way That Fake News is Being Spread
Fake news is apparently here to stay--at least as long as these websites continue to get advertising dollars via clicks. When the ads dry up, so too will the fake news, because this is not about news or even fake news. This is all about less than reputable people looking for another source of easy money. Write an intriguing headline sure to grab interest, pour in 3-4 paragraphs of gobblygook and wait for the clicks.
The concern today is that many people are not able to discern the difference between real news (news that is actually factual and has been properly vetted before being published) and fake news (the stuff above). Before the internet and even more so, social media, we had fake news. It was called the tabloids at the grocery checkout. News of the World, etc. Alien babies, starlets gaining 400 pounds, starlets losing 400 pounds, and so on. But these rags survived almost exclusively on sales at the counter. They were not dependent on advertising because, really, who would advertise in these rags?
Online fake news is a whole different story. An interesting wrinkle is its relationship to what we in the agency biz call programmatic ad buying. An advertiser (or their agency) go to these programmatic exchanges, outline their target market and the number of impressions they want to reach, and in a millisecond, the ad is sprayed out to hundreds or thousands of websites that meet those prerequisites.
But do they really? Nobody is going to go to all of these websites to check or audit that your ad really did land on that sites that the analytic report indicated. What's more, even though you filtered out for porn and other sites that would be detrimental to your brand (including fake news), these fake news sites pull in plenty of readers and clickers. An unsophisticated media buyer, or worse yet a media buyer who was being compensated by quantity rather than quality, could be placing your ad on a fake news site and you may not even know it--that is until somebody finds your ad on one of these sites and asks you if you were aware of your ad being there.
Programmatic ad buying is the fastest growing segment of online ad buying. It can be really great in that it can eliminate the middle man, hold down costs, and it is lightning fast, but, like anything in the online world, there are serious risks.
Be aware, my friend. And beware!