Fake “news” sites are becoming more of a hot topic of conversation ever since Google, Facebook & Twitter faced harsh backlash for allegedly publishing false “news” during the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately in today’s age, the crazier the story, the greater the interest. And in a world where eyeballs equal advertising dollars, the reading and sharing of these sites are truly becoming big business. In fact, it’s estimated that these websites are now generating between $10,000 and $30,000 a month from advertising alone.
So how does this relate to you? If you’re gullible enough to believe and share these stories you’re adding to the visitor count, keeping in mind that every 1,000 visitors can potentially earn these sites a dollar or two. If you’re an advertiser, you could be placing your ads on these sites without even knowing it, feeding the money train that keeps these websites chugging along. At the end of the day, the automated nature of online media buying results in companies purchasing ad space on websites they are often completely blind to.
So who’s to blame? It’s really a group effort, but we can all do our part in taking down these sites together. News junkies need to stop clicking and sharing, advertisers need to be more aware of the placements their ads are being shown on and advertising networks need to take action to prevent the sharing of false “news” in the first place.
Since the election debacle, both Google & Facebook have announced measures on how they will aim to stop the spreading of fake “news”. Google will release a policy change preventing websites that promote misrepresented content from all of its AdSense network. And Facebook’s advertising policies have been updated to clearly state that the sharing of deceptive content is strictly prohibited.
That said, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We have done some research and compiled a list of websites that publish stories that may be considered fake, false or misleading. We recommend proactively excluding these sites in your Display & Programmatic efforts. See below for some of today’s top false “news” sites: