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Booming OTT Market Faces Ad Fraud Issues: Report

As advertisers rush into the booming over-the-top market, they should be on guard against the types of schemes and frauds they encountered in the digital ad market, according to a new report from AdLedger, a non-profit research and development consortium that is developing blockchain and cryptography standards for media.

The report, based on material from MadHive, Reprise/IPG Mediabrands, Hearst Television and The Hershey Co., found that 18% of OTT ad inventory is fraudulent.

In some cases, the ads are being represented as being seen on a device in the U.S., but are really being shown to a device outside the U.S. In other cases multiple ads are being shown to the same device at the same time. In one case, a devices was getting 50 ads per minute. Co. Similarly, some ad supported OTT apps show high activity around the clock, indicating they aren’t being watched by real viewers.

“OTT is booming, offering advertisers the opportunity to apply data-driven planning, targeting and measurement methodologies from the digital ecosystem to television,” said Christiana Cacciapuoti, executive director at AdLedger. “But there is a misconception that OTT is universally fraud free, when in fact it is vulnerable to many of the same schemes as digital.”

AdLedger is putting together projects with consortium members including Omnicom, Madhive and Salon Media that use blockchain and cryptography to verify and validate that OTT campaigns are reaching consumers. AdLedger also recently formed a blockchain education working group that includes GroupM, Publicis Media, Omnicom Media Group and IPG/Reprise Digital.

"In digital and social economies, the major platforms and ad tech companies walk away with much of the publisher's audience value,” said Jonathan Sumber, VP digital sales at Hearst Television. “Our hope is that blockchain technology brings some balance back to this relationship, in both advertising and the surfacing of authoritative/trusted content.”

AdLedger was founded by MadHive, Tegna and IBM. The consortium also includes Inscape, Viacom, Hearst Television, Liberty Global, and iSpotTV.

“OTT is going to play an integral role in the future of the marketing mix, especially as interactive ad formats roll-out on the platform and enable brands to take a DTC approach to media buying,” said Vinny Rinaldi, head of addressable media and technology for The Hershey Company. “We just need to work together as an industry to proactively fight fraudsters, while providing transparency across the supply chain.”