Infographic: Everything advertisers need to know about connected TV and ad fraud

April 1, 2021 | 3 minute read
Kori Wallace
Content Manager
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Ad delivery to connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) TV devices is starting to scale into the programmatic landscape and suffers from the same ad fraud issues we see across all video advertising, whether direct or programmatic. No matter if the objective is brand awareness or sales lift, the first step is making sure you’re reaching real people. And whether malicious or not, undetected IVT can devalue performance metrics, or worse, deplete budgets. Check out the following infographic to learn how CTV advertising works, and how to safeguard your investment.

Everything advertisers need to know about connected TV and ad fraud infographic

What is connected TV?

Connected TV in digital advertising refers to content that appears on a TV screen, whether through a smart TV itself or via over-the-top devices connected to the internet.

On-demand is in demand: The rise of CTV

There’s been a steady rise of CTV usage in the last few years and the increase has caught advertisers’ attention.

  • 2018 – 59.5M households
  • 2019 – 64.6M households
  • 2020 – 69.8M households

CTV ad spend

Advertisers have allocated an increasing amount of ad dollars toward this medium over the years, and this trend will continue to grow.

  • 2019 – $6.8B
  • 2020 – $8.11B
  • 2021 – $11.36B
  • 2022 – 14.11B
  • 2023 – $16.34B
  • 2024 – $18.29B

Lifting the hood on CTV advertising tech

A popular method of delivering advertising via CTV is Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI), also known as ad stitching. SSAI enables a seamless user experience like traditional TV. As you can see below, the ads are stitched into the content, so all the viewer sees is a continuous video stream.

The complexities of SSAI

Zooming out, we see how SSAI servers fit into the broader ecosystem. This is a complex workflow with many players and opportunities for fraud.

  1. CTV device sends request to SSAI server
  2. SSAI server sends requests to ad and content servers for video content
  3. SSAI server stitches videos together and serves back to CTV device
  4. SSAI server and CTV device sends beacons to measurement servers to capture ad attention and other metrics

StreamScam: A massive CTV ad fraud operation

In 2020, StreamScam leveraged a malicious SSAI server that spoofed users, devices, and apps. The SSAI server requested ads from ad servers and fired off measurement events to the measurement server without ever serving any content to viewers or devices.

Total StreamScam impact

  • Impersonated 28M+ household IPs
  • Spoofed 3.5K+ app/channel IDs and user agents
  • Impacted all major OTT devices
  • Affected programmatic platforms, agencies, & advertisers
  • Measured 13M fake impressions per day at its peak

How to better protect CTV investments

Mitigating the risks of CTV advertising requires diligence from the whole industry. While standards and solutions are being developed and adopted, we recommend doing the following:

  • Be skeptical and when in doubt contact the publisher directly
  • Use an independent measurement provider with sophisticated invalid traffic detection capabilities for CTV
  • Adopt the latest guidance from the IAB TechLab on extending ads.txt to CTV devices
  • Support the efforts of transparency and accountability initiatives such as the Open Measurement SDK by IAB TechLab

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Kori Wallace

Content Manager

Kori Hill Wallace is a content specialist for Oracle Data Cloud. She loves appetizers, animals, athletics, and alliteration. (She what she did there?) 

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