Fraudsters Will Always Follow the Money
In the ad space, wherever money goes, the opportunity for fraud follows. The growth of streaming TV content among audiences and investment by advertisers in the media type has made connected TV (CTV) a prime target for fraudsters recently, presenting new opportunities to siphon money from unsuspecting marketers. Despite the on-going threat of ad fraud, marketers are not predicted to shy away from CTV, which will be a bright spot in 2021 according to eMarketer. Increases in content consumption and improvements to targeting and measurement capabilities have piqued advertisers’ interest in CTV. Overall, CTV ad spend will increase from $11.36b in 2021 to $18.29b in 2024.
Last month, Moat made headlines by uncovering StreamScam, the largest-known CTV ad fraud operation uncovered to-date, which exploited CTV ad insertion technology, spoofing more than 28.8m U.S. household IP addresses to trick buyers into thinking their ads were being served to real households. Similar schemes could become more common as advertisers turn to cheaper, less trustworthy buying options amid skyrocketing demand for CTV inventory.
Last year, Pixalate, a firm that monitors ad fraud, estimated that 22% of programmatic OTT and CTV ad impressions were served as invalid traffic. Currently, most CTV inventory is bought and sold directly or through private marketplaces (PMPs), which makes it nearly impossible for fraudsters to spoof impressions. However, while ad fraud rates are highest on open marketplaces, fraud can also happen within PMPs.
Given the significantly complex ad environment, fueled by ever-changing technologies, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate fraud completely. However, there are certain steps advertisers can take to protect their brand and budget—ensuring exposure to fraud is minimal and ad spend is directed where it’s intended.
1. Understand The Risks
The first, and most important, step is to be fully aware of the logistics of this problem and the potential consequences it brings. CTV ad fraud succeeds by going unnoticed—it’s a threat that is hidden in plain sight. Advertisers and agencies need to exercise more diligence regarding the media partners they choose to work with and how their ad spend is being used. Because a dollar that goes to fraud is a dollar wasted.
So what’s going on? The increase in demand and prices for CTV inventory has set the stage for two (dangerous when combined) things:
- Advertisers that are attracted by the lower prices of the open market.
- Fraudsters that are attracted by the high demand and premium they can charge on fake CTV inventory.
2. Seek Out Premium Content Using Reputable Inventory Sources
When it comes to media inventory, you really do get what you pay for. CTV is still relatively fraud-resistant if advertisers stick to direct buys. CTV-focused supply side platforms have taken many steps to prevent fraud from flowing through their pipes, while premium content providers have begun to offer greater transparency in ad buys and measurement. Premium content identification through third-party tools and solutions can help advertisers navigate available inventory options. Working with reputable sources of inventory from the start is a strong preventative step for brands and agencies.
3. Prioritize Transparency
While safeguards are in the works—the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently released an authorized digital seller function (ads.txt) for CTV—widespread adoption could take awhile. Initiatives like ads.txt and app-ads.txt have increased transparency in the supply chain and many reputable publishers limit the number of authorized resellers with which they’ll work. Transparency into where ads are serving is critical to ensuring ads are being served in the right place.
4. Apply Contextual Targeting Data Layers
New technologies and methodologies have created new benefits into contextual solutions. By layering brand safety and contextual relevance at the content level, advertisers can deliver their messaging via content which is not only appropriate but also relevant. The behind the scenes mechanics of content-level contextual categorization creates an extra layer of defense to fraud.
5. Utilize Insights to Monitor Campaign in Real Time
When it comes to fraud, the industry is in a constant race against fraudsters. As a marketer, you want to be able to detect, fix, and prevent fraud as soon as possible. In-depth campaign insights into where, when, and who your ads are being shown to provide the necessary data to ensure your campaign stays on track (and your ad dollars stay out of scammers’ pockets).
How Digital Remedy is Fighting back
As CTV fraud increases in scope and sophistication, it is critical for marketers to work with trusted partners that have the experience, knowledge, scale, and ability to identify and block new threats as they emerge.
In the fight against ad fraud, Digital Remedy has established strong relationships with the best industry leaders to protect our clients against both monetary damages (revenue, CPMs, etc.) and loss of trust and reputation. These partnerships, in combination with our competitively intelligent Flip solution, which utilizes advanced anti-fraud technology, ensure our clients’ ads are served by real publishers, shown to real people, and are reaching their target audiences.
Kevin Jones – VP of Media Buying
“Digital Remedy partners with MRC-accredited verification partners, Moat and Protected Media, to ensure all of our OTT/CTV inventory sources are high quality and invalid traffic (IVT) free. We continually work with our verification and inventory partners to identify suspicious activity, root out new methods of IVT, and stop ad fraud at the source. By integrating Protected Media’s innovative CTV cybersecurity ad fraud technology into our Flip solution, we ensure every impression Digital Remedy serves is validated and provides the highest possible level of brand safety for our clients.”
Click here to discover Flip, our OTT/CTV attribution platform, powered by Protected Media’s patent pending ProtectedTV solution.