4 Keys to Preventing CTV Ad Fraud

What do the names StreamScam, SmokeScreen, RapidFire, and ParrotTerra all have in common?  

They’re all ad fraud schemes reported to have cost advertisers millions last year. They had one objective: fake Connected TV impressions. StreamScam spoofed household IP addresses, SmokeScreen hijacked screensavers, RapidFire fed counterfeit bid requests to ad exchanges, and ParrotTerra used server-side ad insertion to generate fraudulent CTV inventory. It’s scams like these that keep agencies and brands up at night and the lights on for businesses like DoubleVerify, Method Media Intelligence (MMI), and Integral Ad Science (IAS).  

  

What is ad fraud? 

Forbes defines ad fraud as describing “a combination of tactics used to stop digital ads from being delivered to the audiences or spaces for which they were intended.” This can include using bots, SDK spoofing and click spamming—all of which are thought to result in fake ad impressions that rob brands of ad exposure and drive down ad values for publishers. 

  

How serious is it? 

Many have estimated how much ad fraud could be costing advertisers and publishers, but it's impossible to track perfectly. However, Statista has shared some startling statistics. They estimated global digital ad fraud costs of $65B last year. The United States made the top of the list with fraud costing US advertisers more than $13B. And it’s only getting worse. Those figures are forecasted to climb 50% by 2023.  

  

Who's at risk? 

We all know fraud exists, how it's done, and that it affects every aspect of digital media, but the jury is still out on exactly where the greatest risk exists. All we know for sure is that there are bad actors. That can't be avoided, and no area of the digital ecosystem can escape fraud completely. However, there are areas believed to be more at risk than others. Integral Ad Science recently polled 230 media professionals asking them to answer which media type would be most vulnerable to ad fraud over the next year. Over 40% chose Mobile, but a solid 10% chose CTV. As advertisers, any amount of waste in your campaign due to fraud is painful. So what can you do about it? 
 

  1. Partner with a 3rd party that specializes in fraud as their primary business and offers technology and services that safeguard against it. Whether that partner be DoubleVerify, Method Media Intelligence, Integral Ad Science or someone else, it's table stakes for you, your agency, and especially your DSP to partner with at least one, if not several of these companies to cover your bases. Forbes published a handy, unbiased guide for marketers looking to school themselves on ad fraud, the players, and their capabilities.
     
  2. Advertise in known, fully transparent, and safe environments. While the open exchange can look great from an efficiency perspective, the supply path is long, winding, and riddled with land mines. Aspire to be "closest to source" by going direct. This will not only be safer, but higher quality, which translates to more value for your brand.

  3. Get all the data. While it can be difficult getting high quality, granular raw data from some publishers, that information can help uncover a fraud problem and is worth requesting. However, your own analytics can provide insights as well. Be on the lookout for sudden changes in spend and performance, unusual spikes in impressions or site visits, or campaign results and data not lining up. If you're leveraging multiple sources of data and your analysts are watching for concerning signs, you're much more likely to catch and correct fraud early. 

  4. Finally, push for transparency and true partnership with your agency. What you don't know about your data does hurt you. Work with a partner that takes your success seriously and will invest time in uncovering the critical insights buried in your data to make sure you get the most out of your CTV campaigns.