The digital landscape is changing, and the need for transparency and integrity in advertising has never been more essential. As DV is committed to upholding industry standards, we’ve developed proprietary and market-leading technology to support these standards on Made for Advertising (MFA) sites and ensure consistency and clarity across all global stakeholders. We’ll continue to adapt as these standards evolve, ensuring our evaluations are always at the forefront of industry practices. 

How are MFA Sites Identified?

DV’s MFA solution classifies sites and subdomains or sections of sites that demonstrate MFA signals. Our technology prioritizes site reviews based on traffic volume and client impact. We leverage a proprietary analysis process that combines human and AI-driven auditing to identify MFA sites at scale. These sites are categorized based on a comprehensive evaluation of their ad monetization strategies, traffic sources, content creation practices and other factors that indicate MFA inventory.

DV’s tiered MFA categories provide brands with enhanced granularity and control to determine the level of protection that best suits their requirements.

  • High MFA: Sites that exhibit the most extreme MFA content and/or most extreme MFA behavior.
  • Medium MFA: Sites that exhibit a varying degree of MFA behavior.
  • Low MFA: Sites or sections of sites that may contain a mix of MFA and non-MFA content.

If a site or page does not generate enough traffic volume to trigger classification, anomalies are flagged and communicated with DV customers based on a specific financial or traffic impact threshold. Not all anomalies are significant, though, and we work to make the distinction between material issues and noise to ensure advertisers can operate effectively and publishers are not unfairly impacted.

In our post-bid measurement process, we record and analyze auction data and make that data available for clients and publishers through DV Pinnacle. Publishers can access their reporting on a specific advertiser’s campaign as long as the advertiser authorizes it, ensuring transparency throughout the media buy.

As part of our standard process, DV routinely reevaluates active sites designated as MFA approximately every 90 days. It’s important to remember that a reexamination doesn’t automatically imply the removal of the MFA designation. The MFA label will only be lifted if, during the reevaluation process, the site no longer meets the criteria for the MFA designation.

Are MFA Sites Safe? 

MFA sites are sometimes mistakenly equated with fraud. However, this could be because third-party studies aren’t always aligned with established industry standards for identifying IVT or ad fraud. MFA sites are actually a valuable tool to some marketers, depending on their goals.  

Here are three points about MFAs that every advertiser should understand:

1. MFA sites are not inherently fraudulent. 

While not inherently fraudulent or invalid, MFA sites demonstrate various attributes due to their traffic and monetization strategies. Industry standards around fraud are primarily set by organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Media Rating Council (MRC) and Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). These standards protect advertisers, publishers and consumers from fraudulent activities, including, but not limited to, invalid traffic (IVT), bot traffic, click fraud and domain spoofing. Third-party studies don’t always align to these industry standards and often mischaracterize all MFA sites as unsafe. This is where DV’s tiered MFA categories come in — DV’s approach places key insights and controls in the hands of advertisers so they can make informed decisions concerning their media buying strategies. 

2. MFA sites are not inherently unsafe or unsuitable.

MFAs are nuanced, but many advertisers intentionally purchase media on sites classified as MFA because it aligns with their campaign goals. This complexity underscores why DV offers comprehensive, tiered solutions that empower advertisers to navigate the use of MFA sites and make informed decisions. Advertisers will always want to avoid inventory that is inherently unsafe or fraudulent. But this is simply not the case for all MFA content, and many advertisers running ads across MFA sites successfully attract real human engagement. This is why marketers must use granular tools to determine whether specific MFA sites align with their brand values and advertising goals.

3. MFA reporting is tricky — each advertiser has unique goals and employs unique controls. 

Another reason researchers miss the mark on the true nature of MFA sites is because they have a general lack of knowledge and understanding of verification controls and the settings that advertisers choose to activate. Advertisers have unique needs and, therefore, employ different settings. DV provides solutions and insights into their ad campaigns, but advertisers ultimately decide which content is suitable for their brand. Since each advertiser is unique, third-party firms do not have true insight into what actually gets flagged, why certain media is flagged, or the scale of any incidents with our clients.

Looking to the Future of MFAs

DV consistently identifies and addresses these issues and shares insights with our clients and partners without seeking media attention in order to maintain our neutrality. For example, DV has produced MFA insights and lists for advertisers for several years. As an independent auditor, we focus on supporting the advertising ecosystem constructively, emphasizing balance and integrity over a punitive approach.

This piece is part of DoubleVerify’s newly launched Transparency Center, a dedicated portal designed to educate the industry about DV technology and measurement. By providing detailed explanations, insights and timely statements on key issues, we aim to foster trust and transparency within the digital advertising ecosystem.