Commentary

Ad Fraudsters Exploit Massive Loophole In OTT

Programmatic ad tracker Pixalate has some disturbing new evidence that the burgeoning OTT ad marketplace is highly susceptible to fraud.

The OTT video ad market is one of the industry’s fastest-growing channels (Magna’s new forecast says it could double by 2020) — but it’s still very new and largely untapped by advertisers at this point. This has led to a huge education gap, and, sadly, Pixalate has found that fraudsters are way ahead of the curve in some areas.

Specifically, fraudsters are abusing the widespread use of “server-side ad insertion” (SSAI), which is used in 38% of all CTV/OTT programmatic ad transactions. When SSAI is used, Pixalate data shows that it’s fraudulent 26% of the time.

Damn those ad fraudsters! It’s like a game of whack-a-mole with them. Just when you think you’re making progress on one front — if you believe a recent ANA report — they pop up somewhere else. 

Using Magna’s forecasts, that puts $375 million at risk in 2019 and $500 million at risk in 2020.

And nobody has been talking about this problem until now. That’s partly because Pixalate is the only company accredited by the MRC to detect ad fraud in the connected TV/OTT space.  And the firm got the conversation going last week with a presentation at the IAB Tech Lab Innovation Day.

While the potential for abuse is alarming, Pixalate offers some preventative measures including:

- Profile proxy activity in order to start modeling legitimate behavior

- Catalog more ad signals to better identify app spoofing across OTT and In-App

- Collect IPv6 addresses from dual-stack supported interfaces to identify fraud more accurately

- Swift adoption of app-ads.txt and wider implementation of VAST 4.1 to reduce spoofing

- Work to develop a User Agent & Bundle ID naming standard in OTT that is as consistent as possible

It is early days in the OTT video ad segment, but as the past has informed us, it’s never too early to start thinking about fraud detection and prevention.

 

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