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Junk Websites Filled with AI-Generated Text are Pulling In Money from Programmatic Ads

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Generative AI offers a new way to automate the content farm process and spin up more junk sites with less effort, resulting in what NewsGuard calls “unreliable artificial intelligence–generated news websites.”

Credit: Stephanie Arnett/MIT Technology Review/Envato

People are using AI chatbots to fill junk websites with AI-generated text that attracts paying advertisers, according to a new report from the media research organization NewsGuard that was shared exclusively with MIT Technology Review. 

Over 140 major brands are paying for ads that end up on unreliable AI-written sites, likely without their knowledge. Ninety percent of the ads from major brands found on these AI-generated news sites were served by Google, though the company's own policies prohibit sites from placing Google-served ads on pages that include "spammy automatically generated content." The practice threatens to hasten the arrival of a glitchy, spammy internet that is overrun by AI-generated content, as well as wasting massive amounts of ad money.

Most companies that advertise online automatically bid on spots to run those ads through a practice called "programmatic advertising." Algorithms place ads on various websites according to complex calculations that optimize the number of eyeballs an ad might attract from the company's target audience. As a result, big brands end up paying for ad placements on websites that they may have never heard of before, with little to no human oversight.

From MIT Technology Review
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