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Because so much advertising and content is automatically distributed, the digital supply chain has become confusing and messy, lending itself to more ad fraud, malware, extremist content and fake news. Here's a look at how much more complicated the system has gotten over the past ten years:

Expand chart
Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: Digital advertising has become an unpleasant experience for nearly everyone involved:

  • For publishers: It's much harder to profit when Google and Facebook dominate the digital ad market, and when so many new ad tech players are separating them from receiving ad dollars directly.
  • For advertisers: It's easy for ads to end up on sites that host bad content or for ads to be viewed by bots instead of people
  • For consumers: The Internet has become so saturated with pesky automated ads that it's easier to either install an ad blocker or avoid some websites altogether.

What's the solution? There are a few ideas being tossed around:

  • Start over: Several premium publishers (CBS, ABC, Vox, etc.) are teaming up to create a private marketplace where they can recreate a cleaner version of the system through a non-profit called TrustX.
  • Build a new network: Other publishers have discussed using Blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin) to create their own transparent ad networks.
  • Create financial incentives: Speaking at an advertising law policy conference in Washington last week, former Subway CMO Tony Pace said the industry should place more importance on brand value as a part of financial reporting to incentivize everyone to clean up the system.
  • Cut the crap: There's a movement by publishers to only run ads on trusted websites, which could incentivize other sites to clean up their content and stop publishing click-bait. Chase, for example, cut the number of sites they advertise on by 99% from 400,000 to 5,000 and got the same results.

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.