Earlier in this month, CCTV received multiple complaints from its audience concerning ad fraud activities on Toutiao, and that the platform’s policing on ad fraud is specifically loose in second and third-tier cities. CCTV claimed that the fake ads on Toutiao use the “二跳” method (ertiao roughly translated to second-click) to avoid the platform’s supervision. Ertiao ads generally refer to those that lead users to a different ad on the second click. Oftentimes, these ads advertise products that are usually not allowed on sites like Toutiao.
In a company statement, Toutiao apologized for allowing fake ads to run on their site and that they have removed them right away. The company said that they have permanently blacklisted the accounts associated with the fake ads and have discharged employees who colluded with ad agencies to put up those ads.
Toutiao is taking a number of measures to better detect fraud activities including enabling risk reminders for ads that redirect Toutiao users to external sites and conducting a thorough check on their internal marketing/sales division and the ad agencies they work with to clean-up illegal advertising activities. And on top of a thorough check, the company said it will leverage AI technology to reinforce the clampdown on ertiao ads.
Toutiao, who only found itself in hot waters months ago, again run into the red tape. Last December, Toutiao was hit by government criticism for spreading vulgar and low-quality content and ordered the news app to make updates on a number of its popular sections.