CNBC sting: most ad networks accepted fake news site full of scraped content

CNBC's Megan Graham set up a website full of scraped news from other sites. Most ad networks she submitted it to approved it for ad placement.

I only put a few hours of work into this site, but I don't do this for a living.

Real bad actors can get a lot farther than this with only a little more work. For instance, they can set up a site with actual original content, get approved, and only then start scraping content. Or, they can easily buy an existing website that's already monetizing with adtech partners, and just flood it with plagiarized content. They can buy fake traffic to conduct traffic arbitrage, a fancy way of saying that they pay less for traffic than they gain from the ad impressions. They can set up more automated means to keep scraping huge amounts of automated content to keep the website looking fresh.

Google appears to be the only platform that rejected her site. Implicit in this is the fact that Google would not have given her scraper site any respectable placement in search results, and would not have let it into Google News at all.

Which gets us to an important omission from the story: she made $0. Ad networks should not have approved her in the first place, but the real check happens when a check is cut. The shadyness in all this deserves a deeper dive.