DoubleVerify Identifies Audio Ad Fraud Costing Advertisers Millions Monthly

DoubleVerify, a software platform for digital media measurement, has announced the discovery of a large-scale ad-impression fraud scheme that targets audio inventory.

The company said BeatSting is responsible for costing unprotected advertisers up to $1 million per month. 

The fraudsters behind BeatSting spoofs or falsifies obscure mobile apps, such as generic streaming apps that have minimal downloads.

About 60 apps have been identified. Several of the apps associated with this scheme include com.digigrad.jazzmusic, com.digitalsquadra.rockmusic, and com.snkdigital.bakaradio.

It turns out that audio server-side ad insertion (SSAI) falsification works similarly to SSAI fraud on streaming TV. SSAI fraud isn't new but this is the first-time DoubleVerify had seen it applied to the streaming audio space to this degree.

Fraudsters begin by spoofing residential IP addresses and audio apps. They set up fake SSAI servers to falsify audio ad requests to make it seem like the apps have users and inventory on which advertisers want to bid.



These requests go out to supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges and ad networks. If an advertiser wins a bid on this inventory through any of these platforms, their ad dollars are wasted. By creating fraudulent inventory, fraudsters effectively siphon money from legitimate audio channels and apps.   

Digital audio spend continues to increase.

In the second quarter of 2022, the DoubleVerify Fraud Lab detected a dramatic increase in fraudulent activity targeting audio channels, after initially noticing smaller instances of an attack in 2021. The scheme spiked a second time in January 2023. BeatSting is the first time a fraud scheme has generated fake audio traffic through large audio platforms, the company said. 

Advertisers can protect themselves from fraud in a variety of ways. Education is critical. Research reports help. DoubleVerify's Fraud Lab provides resources and best practices to the industry. Advertisers can also partner with vendors who can support them in fighting fraud on audio campaigns throughout the transaction. This includes pre-bid and post-bid filtering across formats and devices.

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