Taking a Stand: Eliminating MFA Sites and Fostering Quality Journalism 

At Index Exchange, we’ve long championed the cause of legitimate publishers—the dedicated journalists and content creators that inform, engage, and inspire the world.  

As a steward of the open web and the freedom and unrestricted access to knowledge that it provides, we have a fundamental duty to serve these publishers, ensuring their survival and prosperity in an increasingly competitive landscape.   

That is why we unequivocally prohibit made-for-advertising (MFA) sites on our exchange.   

MFA sites, designed solely to capture ad revenue through minimal effort and low-quality content, undermine the foundation of programmatic advertising and the publishing industry.  

Eliminating MFA sites 

Over the last two years, we have undertaken a rigorous audit of our exchange. We’ve scrutinised every domain, decisively cutting ties with publishers that fail to meet our standards for quality and legitimacy.   

This was no small feat, but a necessary step to increase efficiencyprioritise sustainability efforts, and uphold the integrity of the programmatic advertising ecosystem.   

Eliminating MFA is a moving target. We continue to take a proactive approach in auditing our exchange—targeting inventory that is low-effort or low-quality, has a high ad density to content ratio, and experiences high levels of social or display ad traffic, among other criteria—and terminate MFA when we find it.   

As there is currently no universal definition for MFA, it’s challenging to have a definitive approach to eliminating it. That’s why we not only vet sites against industry exclusion lists, but also employ a human-vetting approach with routine audits to evaluate publications against our own policies and standards as well as monitor for any changes to domain quality.  

This ensures that sites are not misclassified. While the majority of MFA sites are arbitrage, we understand that some media companies could be mistakenly categorised as MFA, which is why we offer an appeal process for any publisher who feels they have been misclassified. 

Upholding the integrity of the programmatic ecosystem 

Our efforts to remove MFA sites extend beyond compliance—they’re a declaration of our values and our vision of total market efficiency. Transparency and inventory quality are points of pride at Index and part of the foundation of how we built our business.  

To maintain trust, integrity, and efficiency in the programmatic supply chain, we must come together as an industry and eliminate MFA entirely.  

We believe this starts on the supply side: MFA sites simply do not belong on exchanges. Marketers should be confident that their dollars are supporting legitimate publishers and delivering true value.  

To hear more about how we can eliminate MFA across the programmatic supply chain for good, watch this Digiday interview with Index President and CEO Andrew Casale.

We always welcome the opportunity to review data and industry standards on this topic to foster a more transparent ecosystem. Please get in touch if you’d like to collaborate and join the conversation.

Learn more about our approach to exchange quality at Index Exchange. 

Azma Gohar

Azma Gohar

Senior director, compliance

Azma Gohar leads the compliance team at Index Exchange. She is responsible for the policy and exchange quality team that oversees creation of all policies and operational activities such as auditing, vetting new DSP and publisher partners, and monitoring for ad fraud, malware, and all other policy violations to protect our customers and the organization from various risks. Prior to joining Index, she held operations and process improvement roles at McDonald’s and Target.

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