Study: CTV Ad Fraud Surges in 2022

(Image credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay )

NEW YORK—As more ad dollars shift to streaming and connected TV, a new study from DoubleVerify is also reporting alarming increases in CTV ad fraud, with a 69% increase in bot fraud during 2022. 

The findings were in DoubleVerify’s 2023 Global Insights Report, which analyzed trends from nearly 5.5 trillion media transactions across over 1,000 customers in nearly 100 countries.

At a time when eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend nearly $24 billion on CTV advertising, the report shows that the growth in ad investments is opening up new opportunities for fraud. 

CTV ad fraud involves the use of deceptive tactics to generate revenue from advertisers by falsely inflating video ad impressions, the report explained. Fraudsters typically employ bots or fake CTV devices to simulate viewership, tricking advertisers into paying for non-existent or unviewed ad placements.

In 2022 alone, DV’s Global Insights Report found that bot fraud on CTV surged 69 percent compared to 2021. 

In addition, the number of CTV fraud schemes and variants DV detected annually has tripled since 2020. 

For unprotected advertisers, the risk is significant. To quantify the risk, DV compared protected advertisers’ fraud rates against a campaign where verification was not in place. The unprotected campaign experienced a fraud rate of 11.2 percent compared with 0.6 percent for protected campaigns – a difference of nearly 18x. 

“An increase in free, ad-supported streaming is helping to fuel Connected TV’s rapid growth,” said Mark Zagorski, CEO of DoubleVerify. “But with growth come growing pains. As CTV becomes a top channel for consumers and advertisers alike, it also becomes a target for fraud, making measurement and protection a critical part of validating the efficacy of campaigns.”

In addition to a review of fraud, viewability and brand suitability, this year’s report also took a deep dive into attention metrics. Launched in 2021, DV Authentic Attention measurement is an MRC accredited privacy-friendly solution that does not rely on cookies. It provides impression-level insights from the impact of an ad’s presentation to key dimensions of consumer engagement.

Using those attention metrics, the researchers found that campaigns in the most mature market, North America, lag behind in their ability to grab attention (based on DV’s Attention Index), representing a real opportunity for improvement.

For video, specifically, North America is behind all other regions in both attention and viewability. 

Most advertisers run campaigns on sites or apps that have lower attention rates; however, DV’s analysis shows there is significant available inventory that could deliver higher attention and performance.

“Qualifying an ad’s impact matters more than ever before and attention is fast becoming a key currency for evaluating performance,” added Zagorski. “Our metrics make attention actionable for brands. They can gain insights beyond whether their ad simply had an opportunity to be seen — they can start to understand if it resonated, while benchmarking across the industry.”

In addition to its findings on CTV fraud and attention, DV’s Global Insights Report features new data on the ROI of verification, and the need to ensure consistent quality assurance across all platforms, environments and formats. 

The full 2023 Global Insights Report is available here

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.