Major brands are unknowingly endorsing AI-generated junk content online with their ads

Tech news
solo28 June 2023Last Update : 3 months ago
Major brands are unknowingly endorsing AI-generated junk content online with their ads

Generative AI has led to an increase in websites producing low-quality or fake content – ​​and the advertising budgets of major brands may be funding them.

The internet is not only filled with low-quality content, but also content that is misleading, misinformed or outright false.

Meanwhile, the availability of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard means AI-generated news and information have added to this tidal wave of content over the past year.

A new analysis by NewsGuard, a company that ratings the trustworthiness of online news outlets, has found that the proliferation of this poor quality, AI-generated content is being financially supported by the advertising budgets of major global brands, including tech giants and banks. Is.

The ads appear to have been generated programmatically, so brands aren’t necessarily choosing to advertise on what NewsGuard calls “untrustworthy AI-generated news and information websites (UAINs)”.

According to Newsguard, most ads are placed by Google, and they fail to protect the companies’ brand safety – because many legitimate companies don’t want to be seen advertising on sites that are fake news, misinformation or simply low level. Hosts the news of -Quality Content.

NewsGuard, which says it provides “transparent tools to combat misinformation on behalf of readers, brands and democracies,” defines UAINs as websites that operate with little or no human oversight. bots, and publish articles that are written largely or entirely by bots.

Their analysts have added 217 sites to its UAIN site tracker, many of which appear to be funded entirely by programmatic advertising.

Incentivized to publish low quality content

Since websites can make money from programmatic advertising, they are often incentivized to publish them. One UAIN identified by the company – – published nearly 8,600 articles in the week of June 9 to June 15 this year. That’s an average of about 1,200 articles per day.

By comparison, The New York Times, with a larger number of employees, publishes about 150 articles a day.

NewsGuard hasn’t named the big brands that are advertising on these low-quality websites, because they don’t expect the brands to be aware that their ads are ending up on those sites.

The brands include six major banks and financial-services companies, four luxury department stores, three leading brands in sports apparel, three appliance manufacturers, two of the world’s largest consumer technology companies, two global e-commerce companies, two US broadband Are. provider, three streaming services, a Silicon Valley digital platform and a major European supermarket chain.

Many brands and advertising agencies have “exclusion lists” that prevent their ads from being shown on unwanted websites, but according to Newsguard, these lists are not always kept up to date.

In its report, the company behind the Internet Trust tool says it contacted Google several times seeking comment about the monetization of UIAN sites.

Google asked for more context over email, and as of June 25, when additional material was received, Google again did not reply.

Google’s advertising policies are believed to prohibit sites from placing Google-provided ads on pages that include “spammy automatically generated content”, which can be AI-generated content of whatever origin or ” does not produce sufficient value”.

A Newsguard report earlier this year described how AI chatbots were being used to fuel a new wave of fake news and misinformation being published online.

In their latest research, conducted in May and June this year, the analysts found 393 programmatic ads from 141 major brands that appeared on 55 out of 217 UAIN sites.

Analysts were browsing sites in the US, Germany, France and Italy.

All of the identified ads appeared on pages that had error messages generated by the AI ​​chatbots that said things like: “Sorry, as an AI language model, I’m not able to automatically access external links or websites” .

More than 90 percent of these ads were served by Google Ads, a platform that brings billions in revenue for Google every year.

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