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How The MRC Is Fighting OTT Fraud

For a while, I was beginning to think fraud was just something advertisers were going to have to learn to live with. Especially with 2019 digital ad fraud estimates expected to top $23 billion, continuing the trend of YOY increases. Not to mention the epidemic is now spider-webbing out to plague emerging industries like OTT.

That’s right, while many industry folks initially believed OTT was a fraud-free platform, a recent study from advanced TV advertising solutions company MadHive shows that 18% of OTT inventory is fraudulent or suspicious – Pixalate estimates as much as 22%. And the scariest part is that the predominant methods of fraud mirror digital: misrepresentation, device-based and app-based. So, how can we stop OTT ad fraud before it pervades like it does on digital? 

According to MadHive CEO Adam Helfgott, “The most effective way to remedy this problem is by embedding cutting-edge technologies into the underlying infrastructure of the technology to proactively detect and eliminate fraud.” And now, the MRC is writing the rulebook on how to combat fraudulent non–human traffic on OTT.

The MRC has created guidelines for combatting General Invalid Traffic (GIVT), which is increasingly becoming a “must” for advertisers when choosing OTT partners. In MadHive’s case, the company chose to implement the MRC’s GIVT guidelines directly into its product, earning the company the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) Certified Against Fraud seal. This recognizes the rigorous steps taken to combat criminal fraud like bot farms and piracy. 

“Criminal activity follows the money, and with consumer usage and ad dollars moving to the OTT channel, fraudsters are shifting their attention to it as well,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “We commend MadHive for taking these aggressive proactive steps to fight fraud by achieving the TAG Certified Against Fraud Seal, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to prevent fraudulent activity across the supply chain.”

This certification provides MadHive with another layer of fraud defense (in addition to next-generation technologies like ACR, cryptography, blockchain, and AI), which ensures advertisers are getting brand-safe, fraud-free, high-quality inventory. TEGNA’s Premion, which delivers local OTT/CTV advertising to 125+ branded networks and 210 DMAs, is working with MadHive to build a multi-faceted fraud detection toolkit to ensure authenticity in what the company delivers.

“We partnered with MadHive early on to deploy their cutting-edge technology to ensure transparency, integrity, and accuracy in our CTV/OTT ad delivery,” said Jim Wilson, President of Premion, TEGNA. “MadHive’s latest certification provides advertisers with the highest level of accountability for eliminating fraudulent impressions in the ecosystem.”

With fraud constantly finding a way to infest existing and emerging ad platforms, the industry needs to proactively find solutions to weed out the bad actors – the emphasis on solutions, plural. The only way to stay ahead of fraudsters and provide advertisers with the highest quality inventory is through multiple layers of defense, consisting of innovative technologies that are incorporated at the infrastructure-level. OTT is growing rapidly with ad spend expected to hit $5B by 2020, but the only way for technology companies to survive is by dedicating themselves to developing a holistic fraud detection offering.