Increased CTV Spend Comes With Heightened Q4 2021 Ad Fraud

Increased spending on connected TV (CTV) advertising is attracting heightened levels of ad fraud during this year’s holiday season, according to newly released data from DoubleVerify (DV).

While ad fraud normally peaks in the fourth quarter due to the period’s higher ad-spend levels, fraud activity is already higher than that seen in Q4 2020, reports the digital media measurement, analytics and anti-fraud solutions company.

Ad fraud in unprotected programmatic connected TV (CTV) has reached a nearly 20% level. In addition, a sampling of unprotected programmatic inventory found that up to 6.6% of video ads and 18% of CTV ads were fraudulent, including SIVT (sophisticated invalid traffic).

“For advertising to perform, it must be seen by real people,” stresses DV. “Fraud has a dramatic impact on campaign performance, misrepresenting impressions and undercutting marketers’ holiday investments.”

“The more in-demand and premium the inventory, the more likely it is to attract bad actors,” adds DV CEO Mark Zagorski.

In particular, tracking has identified current spikes in two streaming ad-fraud schemes that have attempted to spoof billions of ad impressions since they began operating in 2020.

LeoTerra (chart above) — a scheme in which fraudsters set up counterfeit server-side ad insertion (SSAI) servers to drive manufactured CTV inventory across an unlimited number of apps, IPs and devices — increased activity at the start of this holiday season, falsifying up to 20.5 million unique CTV devices per day, according to DV, which says it identified the scheme in July 2020.

That volume is more than 20 times higher than the level detected at the end of 2020, and nearly 40 times higher than the average in the previous three months.

Similarly, the number of spoofed CTV devices and fraudulent impressions associated with CelloTerra — a scheme identified in March 2020 in which fraudsters use mobile apps to run background ads and falsify CTV traffic — has tripled during this year’s final quarter.

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