Connected TV (CTV) has gained exponential popularity with high-quality content and wider reach. CTV, which is commonly powered by Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc., appears to be an attractive option for advertising. CTV’s inventory is attractive, especially as third-party cookies seem destined to disappear off of desktop and mobile. However, there is a drawback for those who do not conduct due diligence. Fraud is inevitable wherever the money goes in advertising. The growth of CTV content and advertisers’ investments have made it a prime target for fraudsters, presenting new ways to steal money from unsuspecting marketers.
The eMarketer study indicates that despite the threat of ad fraud, the increased consumption of content and advances in targeting and measurement have been driving advertisers’ interest in CTV. Overall, CTV ad spending will increase from $14.44b in 2021 to $29.50b in 2024.
Interesting Read: Unlock The CTV Opportunity: What The Future Looks Like
Growing Risks Of Ad-Fraud In CTV Environment
Connected TV(CTV) is an emerging trend and digital thievery takes place owing to a lack of transparency, tracking, and regulations. Demand outweighs supply and CTV ads do not provide sufficient technical visibility of ads on desktop and mobile.
The Industry Pulse Report cited, “ahead of 2020, 46% of publishers cited ad fraud as a challenge for programmatic advertising, well above the 38% of respondents industry-wide who said increasing levels of ad fraud would be a concern for automated transactions.” To understand the complete picture, let us start with the mechanism of ad fraud.
So, how does it work?
Publishers believe they have sold the standard display inventory while media buyers believe they have purchased licensed CTV video inventory. A random display ad is then shown to users at the same time as ongoing CTV video calls.
The use of spoofing allows bad actors to gain access to CTV servers, pose as real viewers within the system, and even display advertisements when none are actually present. Ad fraud is becoming more and more prevalent as television viewership rates rise.
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We need to consider both the business and technical characteristics that make CTV unique to understand the problem:
High Cost Per Impressions(CPM):
The CTV ad inventory presents marketers with new, high-value opportunities, but fraudsters and bad actors also have lots of reasons to capitalize on it. Due to the higher cost per impression on CTV compared to other formats, such as display, the CTV is more expensive. Therefore, the incentives for fraud are obvious. Scarcity reduces standards. Due to the low rates fraudulent publishers charge, advertisers looking for the lowest CPM – rather than the highest impact – will be placed at a greater disadvantage.
Earlier last year, a network of bots gained access to apps on over a million Android devices with the aim to display advertisements on TVs. It accounted for about 650 million bid requests a day and tricked over 6,000 CTV apps.
Verification and Measurement:
Accuracy and measurement are a challenge in CTV. The video ad serving templates (VAST) of CTV environments are almost always pure, limiting the capability of buyers to run measurement codes on the device. The telemetry in CTV compared to other forms of advertisements is less.
This prevents accurate measurement of the success of the ads. It becomes difficult to verify the impressions, whether the ad was genuinely served to a real device and watched by a human than scripted by bots. It also affects the tracking of connected TV(CTV) data.
A Double-Edged Sword-Server Side Ad Insertion
In server-side ad insertion, content and ads are combined into one video stream, enabling seamless playback on OTT devices such as Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV. This creates a smoother user experience while ensuring the data from the buy-side ad servers stays out of the end user’s hands. Fraud schemes use server-side ad insertion to demonstrate fake inventory across a multitude of devices, apps, and IP addresses. Due to the exchange’s incapability to distinguish between legitimate users and ad scammers’ signals, the exchange sells impressions to both groups, allowing scammers to profit from advertisers.
By way of example, the LeoTerra SSAI fraud scheme, detected by Double Verify (DV) in July 2020, involves fraudulently setting up online SSAI servers and then producing CTV inventory across an unlimited number of devices, apps, and IPs.
As SSAI masquerades fraudulent traffic so easily, any behavior that resembles SSAI within traffic should be studied carefully. It is not a good idea to accept supply from intermediaries that use SSAI, and equally not permit supply from publishers without expert guidance.
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Greater Transparency Needed
Vendors should be transparent about the inventory their campaigns are running on. Often marketers do not get enough transparency and information on where their ads will run- ad position, time, and channel. Hence, there’s a high possibility that there will be quality issues or suspicious inventory will be served.
But the good news is, there is a push to adhere to the IAB transparency standard to enable buyers to determine who is receiving payments for the ad impressions. This will account for transparency and save from playing whack-a-mole.
Mitigate The Risks OF Ad Frauds
The CTV infrastructure, measurement, and verification framework require improvement. Sophisticated and advanced ad verification technologies are needed to mitigate risks. Strong integrations between CTV providers and ad verification companies can better the situation. Brand should support high-quality CTV inventory to mitigate cybersecurity risks. For successful CTV ads, brands should partner with safe, transparent, and trustworthy suppliers that effectively comprehend the nuances of CTV. Therefore, they should carry out meticulous due diligence and blocklists. Monitor the ad bid streams and data to spot any irregularities. In-depth due diligence to select a partner is prudent to avoid ad fraud. Though many businesses may look at it as a resource-intensive task, it is better than losing dollars.
Mark Zagorski, CEO at DoubleVerify said it rightly, “The adage holds true, fraud follows the money.” As CTV viewership grows rapidly, marketers need to be more vigilant to combat ad frauds. They should join hands with the players in the ecosystem to secure the future of the TV. device manufacturers or server-side ad insertion vendors should aim for robust security mechanisms to make it difficult for bad actors. Due diligence, strong partnerships, brand safety, and understanding of the fraud landscape can help the CTV environment live upto its hype and growth.
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