The Truth About Fake News: A Q&A Every Advertiser Should Read

Contributed by Amanda Benoist, Marketing Content Strategist at Goodway Group When a new celebrity weight-loss story hits your newsfeed or a breakthrough miracle cure appears at the top of an internet search, it might seem legit at first. Unfortunately, these are often deliberate hoaxes or click bait disguised as real news stories. With the recent explosion of false news stories, every advertiser must learn how to avoid fake news sites. According to DoubleVerify, nearly half of the fake sites in our ecosystem didn’t exist at the start of 2016, and traffic to many of those sites more than doubled by the end of the year. When the online reality doesn’t add up, you might be left with a lot of questions about fake news. Now, you can get the answers.

You know you can’t believe everything you read online, but what is fake news?

Fake news can take on a variety of shapes and varying degrees of falsehood. The 2016 presidential election brought issues surrounding fake news to the surface, but the reality is this phenomenon is widespread. While the headlines may look credible, most fake news sites are entirely fictional or filled with misinformation, for instance, on the one hand, sites fabricating news about celebrity deaths. On the other hand, many also flag hyperpolitical sites that are far-left or -right leaning as fake news for driving their own agendas over full disclosure of the facts. At Goodway Group, we block sites publishing clearly fake news, environments promoting sensational headlines or hate speech, those with unsubstantiated claims, and click bait sites. And we educate our partners and their advertiser clients on how to avoid fake news sites.

Are there easy ways for an advertiser to avoid fake news sites?

Fake news isn’t just a problem for politicians; it hurts brands across every industry. Because you don’t want your next ad to show up alongside bogus content, consider these strategies to protect your brand from becoming a fake news advertiser:

  • Think about the [ad] company you keep. Choose a programmatic partner that uses a blacklist updated regularly throughout your campaign rather than at the end of each flight because some fake news sites will switch domain names to re-enter your inventory.
  • Commit to quality above price. Ditch sites with low CPMs and high CTRs because their results really are too good to be true.
  • Use a brand safety tool to identify fake news. Consider activating a third-party brand safety solution, such as DoubleVerify or Integral Ad Science, to monitor and prevent fake news sites within your campaigns.

Does running on fake news sites hurt my campaign performance?

The short answer: absolutely. Goodway Group’s media team recently ran a two-part performance test to answer this question. In the first phase of the test, Goodway’s internal fake news blacklists improved eCPA results by as much as 7% over standard blacklists. The fake news blockers also positively impacted viewability scores and overall campaign performance. When we layered in leading brand safety tools for the second phase of the test, nearly all fake news sites remaining were blocked from our inventory. This caused an improvement in eCPA results by up to 34% over standard blacklist results. At Goodway, we don’t support spreading misinformation or inflammatory content. To combat fake news and protect your brand, we can implement several protocols on our campaigns for enhanced brand safety. To learn more about how we ensure a clean ad ecosystem for our partners, contact us at A seasoned marketing pro with years of experience on both agency and client teams, Amanda brings valuable insight and solutions to today’s challenges in strategic communications, digital branding and social media management. As marketing content strategist for Goodway Group, Amanda transforms complex digital media topics into easy-to-understand resources to keep all advertisers and marketers at the forefront of understanding the evolving programmatic landscape. Her favorite part of the job? She gets to share our compelling story with new audiences each and every day.