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CMOs at CES: What Are You Doing About Ad Fraud on CTV/OTT?

Steven Woolway January 18, 2019

Since 1967, the Consumer Electronics Show has been a stage for the latest advancements in technology and software. This year’s event was no different, with innovations on display ranging from smart homes and augmented reality, to the proliferation of 3D printing. It was amazing to see all that’s happening in the world of technology, and how it’s shaping the lives of consumers.

In the digital advertising world, we continue to see innovation around connected TV devices, expanding viewing experiences and programming opportunities. With many consumers turning to streaming services as a complement to or substitute for linear TV (so-called “cord-cutters” or “cord-nevers”), advertiser interest in reaching audiences on this emerging channel has grown to a fever pitch. According to TruOptik, advertising spend within OTT/CTV is projected to grow to $20.1B by 2020. Demand, however, is often challenged by scarce inventory and a small number of closed, private marketplace structures. All tha­­­­­­t is changing, however – driven by a few key factors:

  • More Players. High profile examples include Disney and NBC, both of whom plan to launch their own video streaming services within the next year.
  • More Options. There is an increasing number of ad-supported CTV providers, including Pluto TV and Xumo (both are integrated directly into Smart TVs), as well as traditional subscription-based providers like Hulu and Amazon who are seeking to get into the “passive” ad-supported model.
  • More Content.  Long-tail networks are also taking shape. These may not be household names yet, but some are producing decent programming and are creating a home for content that originally ran on other networks, offering the scale play for marketers.

Fraud Fears Proliferate

It’s clear that CTV is taking active steps to meet viewer demand by expanding the amount and accessibility of available programming. For the time being, however, inventory will continue to be sold at a premium. CPMs for OTT/CTV inventory are often 10x higher than those of standard digital video inventory. This combination of scarce supply and premium pricing is an invitation for fraud – a concern echoed by our partners and clients at CES, in spite of their enthusiasm for the channel.

What can savvy marketers do to allay fraud fears and take advantage of all that CTV has to offer?

1) Know your source. Buying directly or through private marketplaces will afford greater transparency into the inventory you’re targeting.  However, transacting in this manner may come at a higher cost of inventory and also limit the scale and reach of campaigns.

2) Engage 3rd party verification for coverage across all inventory. As a result of premium supply scarcity, many advertisers are turning to long-tail and/or      programmatic CTV buying to achieve scale. Objective, third-party measurement providers like DV will help ensure you’re covered across channels and formats – including CTV. DV has been focused on CTV since 2017 and can help protect against all types of fraud, including: 

  • Bots
  • User agent spoofing
  • Server-side ad insertion
  • Hijacked devices
  • Emulators

3) Make sure you have comprehensive in-app protection. Similar to mobile  devices, fraudsters can manipulate the system to attack CTV apps – with tactics that include app spoofing, hidden ads, background ads and measurement manipulation.

4) Stay on top of emerging CTV fraud schemes. Online ad fraud is dynamic and evolving. High CPMs make CTV a perfect target for fraudsters, who are working continuously to circumvent detection methods. It’s critical to work with a partner that is diligently focused on uncovering new and emerging fraud schemes – ensuring that coverage is fully up to date on an ongoing basis. As an example, DV recently uncovered a fraud scheme specifically targeting CTV Inventory and made immediate updates to its fraud detection methodology to ensure our advertiser clients and partners were safeguarded.

While CTV promises an immersive experience and high user engagement, making it an attractive channel for brand advertisers, fraud remains a top advertiser concern that will become increasingly prominent over time. Rest assured, DV has our customers covered as they explore this exciting, emerging channel to reach audiences. 

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