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OTT Gets Ready to Fight Ad Fraud Threat

Ad fraud is no new concept, and it’s been especially prevalent in video where CPMs are higher and bad actors can get more bang for their buck. Total ad fraud is set to crack $19 billion in 2018, according to some estimates. A significant portion of that is video-based, and not just video anywhere on the web — but on Connected TV and OTT.

Digiday has discussed the lucrative danger of video ad fraud at length, and one study as recently as October 2017 showed that over 20 percent of OTT and Connected TV ads were already fraudulent. Despite OTT ads largely being served through private marketplaces, there’s opportunities for fraud through exchanges. This is where that 20 percent or so are slipping through. And it’s where Beachfront Media and White Ops are joining forces to focus their attention, both for today and the future issues on the horizon. The

AdExchanger spoke to both companies in a piece this Thursday, discussing how to approach the coming threat. White Ops will be providing third-party bot detection and human verification to Beachfront’s video inventory. There’s an emphasis on keeping cross-platform ads trusted and viewable. It’s tough to get fraud through on the device side for OTT. But cross-platform video can potentially open the door for non-OTT inventory to be disguised as OTT — hence Beachfront addressing that potential workaround here.

Beachfront president and founder Frank Sinton spoke to Alan Wolk at Forbes as well about the impetus for taking this action now:

“As OTT viewing and connected TV viewing continue to grow at such a rapid pace, it’s like we’re waving a red flag at a bull. These guys have made so much money ripping off digital advertising platforms that TV has got to be where they’re putting all their R&D, ” said Sinton. “It’s also never easy to put the genie back in the bottle. Let’s say they succeed, even just temporarily. They now have a taste of the riches they can earn and they’re going to be even more determined. If we can stop them before they get started, they may just give up and go elsewhere.”

White Ops described the current advertising industry as a “battle for human attention” between consumers, legitimate advertisers and the army of bots that now roam the digital space. Work is being done to try and course-correct that dynamic for digital after the fact, but for TV, Beachfront, White Ops and others can get out ahead. Therein lies both the opportunity and need with their expanded partnership now.

Some data seems to indicate that video ad fraud rates are falling, but that time and energy may just be headed toward more lucrative projects. As Beachfront CEO Bill Jennings notes in the press release from Thursday, “…it’s extremely important we remain closely partnered with fraud-fighting industry leaders like White Ops as we relentlessly keep our promise ensure clean, brand-safe inventory across the CTV and digital video ecosystem.”

As the ad industry keeps talking about what they’re doing to fight fraud, it’s not necessarily going away just yet, and the next major threat is always right around the corner. Just because total numbers go down, it doesn’t mean the overall issue is gone. There’s foresight to looking at what’s next, with TV, as Beachfront and White Ops likely prove.