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How Fraudsters Are Taking A Piece Of The Presidential Ad Pie

Some estimates show that fraud cost digital advertisers more than $23 billion last year, and now that headache is coming to CTV. 

Advertisers are flocking to streaming TV, leveraging the granular targeting and measurement capabilities, and pursuing viewers who are spending more time watching ad-supported programming.

But a recent report from the Wall Street Journal highlights how fraudsters are seeking to steal some of those new ad dollars. In addition to the hundreds of fake streaming-TV apps and roughly 20% of CTV inventory being suspicious, now the upcoming presidential election has fraudsters lurking in the shadows.

Every election year, billions of dollars are spent on political advertising. And with the campaign trail hindered by COVID this year, an even bigger chunk of budgets will go towards platforms like CTV. Here’s how fraudsters are siphoning away ad dollars this election season: 

Misrepresentation: this is the practice where fraudsters disguise ad inventory and present it as something else. We have seen this leveraged effectively in Monarch, the 7-figure ad fraud scheme that tricked marketers like Lexus, Geico, and Jaguar into buying passive experiences like a screensaver app, instead of content from the public domain such as episodes of The Three Stooges or The Andy Griffith Show. 

Now, fraudsters are geographically misrepresenting data, at a time when candidates are strategically crafting messages for specific regions. This means that bad actors are misrepresenting their activity by masking their locations with false IP addresses. A recent study from App Science shows that Canada (46%) is the country that this is happening in most.

Last year advertisers lost an estimated $1.4 billion to fraudsters on CTV. And with the billions of additional dollars being pumped into the digital advertising ecosystem due to elections, that number stands to increase dramatically. Fraudsters are constantly getting more clever with their tactics, and CTV advertisers need a multi-faceted fraud defense system.