You won’t believe this scheme
To:Brew Readers
Marketing Brew // Morning Brew // Update
Why brands run ads on clickbait sites.
Morning Brew September 08, 2021

Marketing Brew

Good Wednesday, which is the real Monday following Labor Day. Media planning is complicated, especially in today’s climate. 

It’s not all gloom and doom, though. In this month’s CTA event, we’ll chat with Cathy Shaffner, chief investment officer at media agency Empower, to talk about finding the light—and getting the most bang out of your clients’ buck. RSVP here

In today’s edition: 

  • What the heck is “made for advertising” inventory?
  • A handful of companies react to the Texas anti-abortion law
  • Brands search for a creative glow-up

—Ryan Barwick, Zaid Shoorbajee


You won’t believe these ads (your audience won’t either)

Made for advertising Gif

One minute, you’re reading a dense political explainer about rumblings in Washington, or checking the weather in your zip code. Before you know it, you’ve clicked on a headline about pool noodle hacks that will completely change your life

If you’ve spent more than 15 minutes online, then this is probably a relatable experience. 

It’s clickbait, otherwise known as “made for advertising” inventory, a term used to describe websites that earn most of their eyeballs through sponsored placements tied to chumbox ads. Using content recommendation platforms like Taboola or Outbrain, these publishers place ads on legitimate news sources like USA Today, goading people with patently ridiculous headlines to click through to their sites. 

Once users click, they’re taken to these sites that are rife with ads—hence the “made for advertising” moniker—but lacking in substance (unless you consider “Vintage Photos of Women Getting Tattoos” to be particularly informative). 

Publishers like CNN, Vox, Huffington Post, and countless others have a hard time saying no to platforms like Taboola, as few want to turn down the revenue. But the mechanisms of programmatic advertising make it easy for brands to show up on the clickbait sites these platforms direct people to, whether marketers realize it or not. 

How much of it is out there?

  • Made for advertising inventory is snapping up as much as 12.3% of global programmatic web display ad spend, according to Jounce Media, which reviewed spending on more than 2,000 sites it labeled as “made for advertising.”
  • According to eMarketer predictions, programmatic digital display ad spending will surpass $115 billion in the US alone next year. 
  • That means potentially billions of programmatic ad dollars are spent on sites like,, and

And advertisers know these sites are low quality, compared with publishers that actually, you know, have a newsroom. 

“These sites ‘are not really publishers’ in that they have a brand, a loyal audience, or anything resembling a content strategy. They’re just vessels for the convenient monetization of 3P cookie data; it’s nothing but a numbers game for them,” Myles Younger, senior director of data practice at MediaMonks, told Marketing Brew.

So why are Nike, Disney, and Best Buy advertising there? Read more about why this inventory is hard to avoid online, how these clickbait sites operate, and how supply-side platforms like Google, PubMatic, and Xandr help them persist.—RB


(Some) brands speak out against Texas law SB 8

Lyft app

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Following Texas’s decision to effectively ban most abortions last week, some companies have made announcements of support, either symbolically or financially, toward reproductive rights.

A key part of the bill? Allowing private citizens to sue and report anyone who is aiding someone seeking an abortion. Here’s how some brands are responding: 

  • GoDaddy shut down an anti-abortion group’s website after it asked for tips about violations of the new law.
  • Bumble created a relief fund that will go toward organizations advocating for reproductive rights.
  • Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group, which owns Tinder and Hinge, put together a fund for Texas–based employees seeking healthcare outside of the state.

Plus, Lyft and Uber have each vowed to cover all fees for drivers faced with legal ramifications. Lyft is also donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

“Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why,” Lyft’s co-founders and general counsel said in an email to riders and drivers. “This law is incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company.”

+1: Some have already called on agencies and marketers to pull out of SXSW, writes Ad Age.

But, but, but: As the New York Times notes, many of the largest companies in Texas (and in the US), including American Airlines, AT&T, and Dell, have remained silent on the issue, despite making statements on topics like climate change and restrictive voting laws in the past.—RB



Your Secret to Meetings That Actually Make a Difference

You’re sitting at your computer after a long video call. 

You’re hoping that if you stare at your screen long enough, everything you just discussed will list itself out in neat bullet points and magically notify each of your team members of their relevant tasks. Sound familiar?  

With, you can have the next best thing: smart documents that team managers use to turn unstructured campaign ideas into actionable tasks. 

If you’re starting to hate the sticky notes stuck to your monitor, this thing is for you—it’ll help you keep campaign planning organized once and for all. That way, your team members can focus on, you know, the stuff you hired them to do. 

Not only that,’s shared workdocs allow you to embed widgets, images, graphs, and videos directly from team project boards (and they’ll update automatically!).

With all that info in one place, you can turn half-baked ideas into seamless workflows easily—no magic necessary. 

Learn more about’s shared workdocs here


Agency shopping

Alicia Silverstone from Clueless shopping


There’s a game of musical chairs being played. Or is it duck, duck, goose? Whatever the best analogy is, several brands within the past few weeks have a) hired a new agency or b) put their existing partnerships under review. Here’s a quick roundup: 

  • Planet Fitness picked Team Lift—a new unit within Publicis Groupe created specifically for the brand—as its gym buddy agency of record to handle “marketing strategy, centralized data and analytics, media planning and buying, creative, and brand partnerships.”
  • Sports betting app FanDuel tapped Wieden+Kennedy as its lead creative agency, which worked on its first national campaign. 

Ad Age reported on a flurry of other agency shakeups in the past week. TJ Maxx picked MullenLowe as its new creative agency of record. Additionally, Instacart, vacuum brand Bissell, and import beer Modelo Especial are all reportedly looking for new shops. 

Maybe it’s hot potato. Some of this is business as usual, but there are other factors at play. Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be markers on marketers’ calendars as they prepare for back-to-school or for the new year, Ken Robinson, principal and co-founder at Ark Advisors, told Marketing Brew. 

Brands also might be finally getting around to reviews that they’ve been putting off since the start of the pandemic. “With clients (and the stock market) feeling more optimistic, they are moving forward with reviews they had put on hold,” Robinson told us.

The pandemic also just plain shook up the way business is done, shifting a lot of transitions into the digital world. That may have prompted companies to look for fresh strategies, Robinson explained. “In many cases, clients are realizing that their agencies are not keeping pace with their new marketing needs.”—ZS



  • Ford hired former Apple and Tesla exec Doug Field. 
  • Fox Sports is already selling Super Bowl ads for 2023.
  • AB InBev named Benoit Garbe as the company’s new US CMO.
  • Ikea made a (fake) reality show that keeps its cast stuck in the 90s.



Research solution is udderly successful. Big on bringing new dairy products to the market, US farming co-op Organic Valley wanted to find a way to speed up its NPD process. So they turned to Attest, whose self-service research solution wound up saving Organic Valley 10x in NPD costs. Learn how Attest did it here.


French press

Francis Scialabba

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Video: Want to make a high performing TikTok ad? The app will show you the way

Skillz: Technical skills sound boring, but they’re actually crucial. These ones are especially important for marketers. 

Social: This guide explains what social CRM is and its benefits + challenges. 

Listen in: Tagger is the most accurate end-to-end influencer marketing and social listening platform that helps the top global brands and agencies plan campaigns, understand audiences, discover & connect with influencers, create custom reports, measure ROI, and more.*

*This is sponsored advertising content


Stat: US Android users spent more than 24 hours on TikTok in June, according to a report from App Annie, surpassing YouTube. 

Quote: “Just getting started in the crypto game...y’all got any advice??”—a tweet from NBA shooting god Steph Curry, who’s joined cryptocurrency exchange FTX as global ambassador.

Read: If you read Marketing Brew, then you’re at least somewhat aware of what’s been going on between Nielsen and um...everyone else. Read the Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell’s deep dive on the widening gap between Nielsen and the industry it tracks.


The CTA - Marketing Brew

Streeeeeetching a dollar for a media budget takes precision and care. Come learn how Empower is directing and advising clients in these unpredictable times as we chat with the agency’s chief investment officer, Cathy Shaffer. 

On Tuesday, September 21, at 11:30 am ET, Shaffner will join us for an eye-opening conversation on the intricacies of budgeting, her predictions on industry shifts, and how to act as a partner.  

Ready to RSVP? We know you are. Click here to register and share your questions for us. Can’t wait to see you.


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Written by Ryan Barwick and Zaid Shoorbajee

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