It’s been widely reported how pandemic-inspired lockdowns have boosted consumer viewing of OTT and CTV content; less widely reported is the fraud that has come in its wake.

Writing exclusively for WARC, leading ad fraud investigator Augustine Fou notes three large-scale cases of CTV fraud, caught and documented in 2020. And only last month a fourth case was disclosed where 1,300 fraudulent CTV apps were caught using public domain content to populate fake CTV apps.

 CTV fraud is already at scale

“CTV fraud is already ‘at scale’ and stealing large amounts of advertisers CTV budgets,” Fou states.

“CTV fraud is both easy to commit and easy to hide,” he continues. “Fraudsters are highly motivated because CPM prices for CTV ads are among the highest, compared to all other types of digital ads.”

How do they do it? Fou explains: “Servers deliver CTV ads when they see the device is a streaming stick or app, as opposed to desktop or laptop computers, or smartphones or tablets. So fraudsters simply make their bots appear to be streaming devices, in order to rip off highly lucrative CTV ad budgets. Yeah, it’s literally that simple.“

It is, he says, a “perfect storm – advertisers have an insatiable demand for more CTV inventory, and fraudsters make more CTV ad inventory out of thin air for advertisers to buy, all while fraud detection technologies can't catch most of the fraud”.

But there are actions that advertisers can take to protect their investment, starting by adopting the same attitude they should already have to other digital ad formats.

Inspect the available analytics to see if there is anything suspicious, Fou advises:

• are apps you’ve never heard of selling large quantities of CTV ad impressions?

• are apps selling ad impressions at odd hours of the day, like overnight hours when humans are sleeping?

• are abnormal numbers of devices coming from the same IP address (e.g. thousands of devices, when most households only have one or two connected TVs)?

For more guidance on tackling CTV fraud, read Augustine Fou’s article in full: CTV video ads: Most attractive for advertisers, and for fraudsters.

Sourced from WARC