How brands can tackle the growing sophistication of ad fraud

At a time when invalid traffic (IVT) is threatening to render an advertiser’s investments worthless, programmatic advertising platforms must make moves to improve transparency in their bidding processes, and deliver a fraud-free experience to publishers and advertisers.

Here’s a brief look into ad fraud issues in in the over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) advertising space, and how brands can rise above the problem to ensure a high level of transparency in combating ad fraud.

The menace of ad fraud in CTV

As the OTT/CTV advertising scene continues to grow, ensuring brand safety has become more complicated. Advertisers face immense losses due to fraudsters. More and more complex traps are used to trick marketers into paying for invalid impressions, including the widespread use of bots. Advertisers end up buying impressions that reach non-human audiences and often ads are displayed in placements where they are not relevant.

In programmatic ad buying, there are many advertisers bidding for the same inventory. The search for low-cost impressions means there is a higher chance that one will buy fraudulent impressions. Some inventory may be incredibly cheap because of the use of these fraudulent impressions.

A simple programmatic platform only automates the buying and selling process. However, without any anti-fraud measures, the value lost to invalid traffic (IVT) is astonishingly high. According to Pixalate’s 2020 study, around 20% of global video impressions tracked within the first three quarters of the year were delivered to bots and other types of ad fraud mechanisms. Hence additional functionality is necessary for distinguishing between real and false impressions.

Advanced approaches to tackling ad fraud

As in other advertising spaces, there is both general invalid traffic (GIVT) and sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) in OTT/CTV advertising. The former is invalid traffic identified through routine means of filtration including standardised parameter checks. Typical sources for GIVT include data centre traffic, bots and spiders or other crawlers.

SIVT is more difficult to detect. Advanced analytics, multi-point corroboration and co-ordination, or significant human intervention, is necessary to identify the invalid traffic. In both cases, detecting suspicious activity can be laborious, but it is possible to achieve with specialist technology and the results speak for themselves (see case study below).

All advertisers want high-quality ad inventory that gives them a high ROI, something which fraudulent publishers and non-human traffic hinder. With traffic quality control algorithms in place, marketers can achieve a fraud-free experience.

Improving the quality of programmatic ad inventory puts advertisers in a better position, as the real value of their investments is well guarded with advanced anti-fraud features. The decrease in invalid traffic translates to huge benefits for the advertisers, and widespread use of anti-fraud may one day lead to a scam-free CTV advertising landscape.

How BidMind by Fiksu is addressing fraud

At the end of 2019, Bidmind by Fiksu partnered with Pixalate to combat ad fraud on OTT and CTV. Pixalate is an ad fraud intelligence and marketing compliance platform. The company is accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC) for the detection and filtration of sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) across desktop and mobile web, mobile in-app, and OTT/CTV advertising. It specialises in pre-bid ad fraud detection and measurement solutions that promote transparency to digital advertising.

With the new anti-fraud measures in place, BidMind by Fiksu is already reporting better ROI for its users. Q1 2021 data has shown impressive numbers. We sampled tens of millions of impressions processed on OTT and CTV platforms, with Pixalate measuring an IVT two times lower than the industry average.

The snapshot of anti-fraud prevention provided by the Q1 2021 report shows a significant improvement in average IVT compared to the Q1 2020 report. Fiksu’s Q1 2021 IVT figures are two times better than the 20% average IVT recorded in programmatic OTT/CTV advertising throughout 2020.

The decrease was achieved thanks to a significant reduction in SIVT, which was responsible for over 90% of invalid traffic in both cases. Thus, with Fiksu’s quality algorithms and Pixalate’s pre-bid blocking technologies, SIVT rates were reduced by over two times, and in particular HighRiskDeviceId SIVT – by six times.

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