Publishers Blame the Machines

As many publishers are scrambling to figure out a sustainable revenue model, some are turning to unscrupulous means to pull in much needed dough.

Earlier this week, Digiday’s Jack Marshall brought to light the ways in which publishers are indirectly benefitting from porn search terms. Entire landing pages on content sites like Funny or Die might be devoted to terms like “sex,” consequently allowing publishers to gain large amounts of fringe search traffic.

Clearly, these are, “editorial choices, driven by desperate need for ad revenue,” as Andrew Sullivan pointed out in The Dish. These landing pages are auto-generated. His thoughts are, if these pages are automatically created, how come no one is held responsible for removing them?

Brands obviously would not advertise alongside such content, if they knew what their spend was fueling. Even if Funny or Die is not held accountable for their algorithmic page creation, Ron Stitt, the group VP of digital media for Fox News, asks, “Is this really the traffic their advertisers want?” Perhaps not, but this is a numbers game.

You know it’s bad when pornography publishers aren’t happy too. After all, they’re also hurt by these tactics. Mainstream sites are favored as sources by Google because of their supposedly high credibility. The result is your average porn searcher might not get what he’s looking for. Barbara Rice, executive editor of Penthouse, addressed the situation.

 

It’s hard to please everyone.

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