Eyes Wide Open: What B2B Marketers Can Learn From the Forbes Saga

MFA (Made for Advertising) tactics are on everyone’s lips right now, but what are the ramifications for B2B marketers in light of Forbes’ alleged use of a subdomain to over stack pages with ads?

The recent revelations about Forbes’ alleged unorthodox advertising tactics have shocked the B2B marketing community. As first reported in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes is said to have used a subdomain (www3.forbes.com) to post articles and then over-stack the pages with ads.  

This has sparked major discussion across the industry around MFA (Made for Advertising) tactics – a practice where websites are primarily designed to generate advertising revenue, often at the cost of providing high-quality content and a positive user experience.  

While our ad verification partner says “we do not believe this [Forbes] site should be classified as MFA,” this controversy serves as a reminder that marketers must remain vigilant and adaptable in the ever-evolving digital landscape.  

Let’s be clear, there are major benefits of partnering with a respected media powerhouse like Forbes. In our contact with them around this topic, they have been transparent, responsive, and dedicated to providing value to clients.  

So, while Forbes is in the limelight here, the spotlight needs to be on MFAs that have been pervasive in the programmatic space and can inflate reach and performance metrics without providing real value.  

So, what should marketers do to mitigate the potential risk of these blind spots? 

  1. Flexibility and Transparency: The Cornerstones of Successful Media Partnerships

The Forbes case highlights the critical importance of media flexibility and responsiveness in addressing advertiser concerns. By shutting down the controversial www3 subdomain and working with partners to ensure accountability going forward, Forbes has demonstrated a willingness to adapt and maintain the trust of its partners.  

B2B marketers must prioritize transparency and open communication when evaluating potential media collaborations.

2. Navigating the Blind Spots of Digital Advertising

Lack of transparency, compromised brand safety, and inflated metrics can undermine the effectiveness of B2B marketing campaigns. Marketers must be aware of these potential pitfalls and proactively address them with their media partners. At Just Global, we use real-time reporting to monitor for suspicious traffic markers as well as leveraging verification partners to ensure air cover against these fraudulent content sources. 

Establishing clear KPIs, demanding detailed reporting, and implementing brand safety measures are crucial steps in mitigating these risks.

3. Due Diligence and Accountability

Marketers must hold partners accountable to ensuring transparency and maintaining quality standards. Reestablish clear metrics and benchmarks for performance, fostering accountability among partners and rebuilding trust through measurable results.  

In collaborating with our ad verification partner, they confirmed the following: 

While www3.forbes.com has characteristics of MFA sites, primarily the use of lists and carousels, we do not believe this site should be classified as MFA for the following reasons: 

  • We identified that www3.forbes.com content had similar characteristics to other ad-supported content on the site. 
  • The overall ad load and ad-to-content ratio do not meet their standards to be flagged as MFA. 
  • The articles published on this site are authored by a real journalist employed by Forbes, indicating that the content is not plagiarized or AI-generated. 

That being said, our partner is working to enhance and further improve their recently released MFA measurement and optimization products to better identify “MFA blending” going forward. 

More due diligence is required from ad verification partners to ensure the technology evolves and improves MFA measurement and optimization products.

Looking Ahead

In the wake of the Forbes controversy, B2B marketers are reminded of the paramount importance of adaptability in their strategies. This incident underscores the need for constant evaluation of media partnerships, challenging established norms, and embracing emerging technologies. By remaining informed, agile, and proactive, marketers can navigate the dynamic digital advertising terrain, ensuring their campaigns deliver genuine value. As the dust settles, it’s clear that prioritizing flexibility, transparency, and vigilance is essential in forging meaningful media partnerships that foster sustainable growth and success for brands. 

Contact our expert Media Team to find out how they can help you get the most out of your campaign.
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