Media Data & Privacy Media Planning and Buying

Ad fraud in video streaming increases during holiday season, new data finds

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

December 16, 2021 | 3 min read

There is a significant increase in advertising fraud in online video and streaming amid the 2021 holiday season, impacting media quality and campaign effectiveness.

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As CPMs rise, the challenge of illegitimate impressions only makes that squeeze greater

This comes as viewers increase their consumption of digital video and streaming during the holiday season, which leads to more ad spend and engagement.

The spike in fraudulent traffic on online video and CTV was first spotted in mid-October, 6.6% of “video” ads and 18% of “CTV” ads were fraud or sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) from hijacked devices to bot-based fraud and injected ads, according to data from DoubleVerify.

“The adage holds; fraud follows the money. The more in-demand and premium the inventory, the more likely it is to attract bad actors. In addition, while fraud normally peaks in Q4, we have found that the volumes this year are already higher compared with Q4 of 2020,” said Mark Zagorski, chief executive officer at DoubleVerify (DV).

“As advertisers shift budgets to CTV inventory and platforms, the need to understand performance and measurability across the channel is now more important than ever. Given the growing complexity of these schemes — with fraudsters continuously employing new techniques, the entities representing or selling fraudulent inventory may not be directly responsible or even understand that fraud is taking place.”

He added: “Advertisers are trying to get the best bang for their buck during the holiday build-up. As CPMs rise, the challenge of illegitimate impressions only makes that squeeze greater.”

What does the data show?

  • DV has found that LeoTerra, a (Server-Side Ad Insertion) SSAI fraud scheme uncovered in July 2020, increased activity with the start of the 2021 holiday season, falsifying up to 20.5 million unique CTV devices per day.

  • This means over 20 times more than the volumes detected at the end of Q4 2020 and nearly 40 times more than the last three months’ average.

  • DV also found CelloTerra, a mobile fraud scheme uncovered in March 2020, has tripled its number of spoofed CTV devices and fraudulent impressions to maximize ad revenue in Q4.

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