By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor

White Ops


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June 16, 2020 | 5 min read

As marketers shift spend to new channels and move investment into performance marketing, online ad fraudsters are also finding new ways to divert spend, according to White Ops.

Speaking as part of The Drum’s Can-Do Festival Predictions Series, White Ops’ Ryan Murray talked through the future of ad fraud and the positive steps that the industry can take to mitigate the impact.

Can Do White Ops

Mobile, OTT and performance marketing are vulnerable to fraud, says White Ops’ Ryan Murray

New channels such as OTT are starting to be targeted, according to Murray, because fraud tends to follow the money and advertisers are moving spend towards video streaming publishers. The company unveiled fraudulent activity in this space in its recent ‘Icebucket’ report.

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“Our threat intelligence and detection teams recently uncovered Icebucket, the largest OTT/CTV fraud operation to date. Icebucket started in an area of programmatic advertising where the supply chain is less transparent, sellers are not reported in sellers.json files, and buyers and sellers typically don't have a direct relationship,” he explains.

“At its peak, the Icebucket bot operation impersonated more than 2 million people in over 30 countries. The operation counterfeited over 300 different publishers, stealing advertising spend by tricking advertisers into thinking there were real people on the other side of the screen, when in reality, these were bots pretending to be real people watching TV. The operation hid its sophisticated bots within the limited signal and transparency of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) backed video ad impressions.”

Murray also spoke about a new report that has helped uncover mobile apps that were carrying out fraudulent actions. The majority of the apps were in the selfie or beauty genre and had amassed over 20m downloads.

Likewise, as marketers shift spend towards performance marketing metrics, particularly due to the way Coronavirus has influenced budget decisions, marketers need to make sure they are equipped to counter fraud on their own websites. Murray says fraudsters can now not just mimic the audience in terms of media fraud, but carry out the activity on a brand’s own website, such as filling in forms. Not only does the fraud impact media spend, but it can also skew decision-making and strategy as the fraud adds inaccuracy to data and analytics.

Murray spoke with The Drum's publisher, APAC, Charlotte McEleny as part of The Drum's Can-Do Festival, an online event celebrating the positive energy, innovation and creative thinking that can make the marketing community such a powerful force for good. You can watch the interview in full here.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full can do schedule here.


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White Ops is a cybersecurity company that protects digital advertisers and web app owners from ad fraud and other forms of automated threats.

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