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Navigating the digital audio landscape and combating invalid traffic (IVT)

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October 26, 2023 | 4 min read

By Brendan Kelly, Director of Ad Quality, AdsWizz and SXM Media

By Brendan Kelly, Director of Ad Quality, AdsWizz and SXM Media

The Rise of Digital Audio

The digital audio advertising realm is undoubtedly experiencing a boom. According to Statista, the anticipated annual growth rate in ad spending from 2023 to 2027 is 6.04%, projected to lead to a market volume of approximately US$12.82 billion by 2027. However, this growth is not without challenges. One hurdle is Invalid Traffic (IVT), which can threaten campaign effectiveness and resource allocation.

In this article, we will examine the challenges associated with IVT in the digital audio advertising ecosystem and introduce some opportunities to stay ahead of it effectively.

The Challenge of IVT

The rise of digital audio has been extraordinary, evolving from Internet radio's early days to the widespread popularity of music streaming and podcasts, creating a flourishing advertising ecosystem. In fact, according to The 2023 Programmatic Audio Report from GroupM & IAB Europe, 47% of advertisers and agencies have identified audio advertising as either their top or one of their top media choices. Unfortunately, this growth has also attracted unwelcome elements producing IVT.

IVT refers to advertising impressions generated by bots or any non-human traffic, which can be detrimental to advertisers for several reasons. First, they are essentially paying for a service they are not receiving – legitimate audience engagement, wasting resources, and negatively impacting their campaigns' return on investment (ROI). Secondly, it distorts analytics and reporting, making it challenging to assess a campaign’s performance accurately and hindering the ability to optimize strategies effectively.

It's important to note that while IVT is often associated with ad fraud, not all IVT is malicious. It can also include non-malicious but undesirable traffic, such as web crawlers and other non-human interactions.

The audio environment differs significantly from traditional digital advertising formats, with the primary distinction in the medium itself – audio. Unlike visual advertising, where telemetry related to user interactions with the screen can be used to identify threats, IVT in audio is a more subtle menace. Many devices used to consume digital audio do not have a screen, and those that do are often used while the screen is inactive, creating a unique challenge.

Opportunities for Combating IVT

Building a Comprehensive Strategy

Effectively combating IVT in digital audio advertising requires a multi-pronged approach. The first step is to equip your team with a deep understanding of the risks associated with IVT, which involves staying up-to-date with evolving tactics and strategies malicious actors employ in the digital advertising space. By ensuring that your team is well-informed about the intricacies of IVT, you can empower them to recognize and respond to suspicious activities early on, minimize potential damage, and enable your team to adapt swiftly to changing threat landscapes.

Moreover, team collaboration and industry cooperation are instrumental. By collaborating with colleagues, industry peers, and relevant organizations, you can collectively pool your knowledge and share best practices. This collaborative effort can create a synergy that bolsters the industry's collective ability to combat IVT, thereby fostering a safer and more secure advertising ecosystem for all involved parties.

Leveraging Advanced Technologies

To complement industry knowledge, best practices, and more focused campaign strategies, choosing a reliable and established platform with robust anti-fraud capabilities is crucial to building comprehensive safeguards to ensure your audio advertising campaigns are bot-free. For example, at AdsWizz, we've teamed up with Human Security, a cybersecurity accredited by the MRC for Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) pre-bid mitigation and post-bid detection to combat digital fraud. We use HUMAN's Programmatic Ad Fraud Defense solution, which employs 2,500 dynamic signals and 350 algorithms to prevent invalid ad opportunities and protect advertising budgets. This system continuously evolves to stay ahead of fraudulent activity.

In Closing

The digital audio advertising sector is thriving, but it has not escaped the threat of IVT faced across the digital landscape. Advertisers should remain steadfast, well-informed, and lean into advanced technology to address this issue and ensure that campaigns reach legitimate audiences and deliver optimal returns, ultimately enhancing the safety and integrity of the advertising ecosystem.

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