Fraud Playing Scrooge as CTV Advertising Spikes During Holidays

DoubleVerify LeoTerra
(Image credit: DoubleVerfify)

Bah, humbug! As advertising on connected TV spikes during the holiday season, fraud and invalid traffic are dropping lumps of coal into the industry’s wassail bowl. 

Digital media analytics platform DoubleVerify says that it sampled unprotected unprotected programmatic CTV inventory and found that 6.6% of what were supposed to be video ads and 18% of what looked like CTV ads were actually fraud or sophisticated invalid traffic.

In particular, DoubleVerify detected two fraud schemes that seemed to be picking up steam as the holiday season approached. 

One is LeoTerra, first detected by DoubleVerify in July 2020. LeoTerra sets up counterfeit supply side ad insertion servers and manufactures what looks like CTV inventory across an unlimited number of apps. Since the start of the holiday season LeoTerry has falsified as many as 20.5 million CTV devices per day--more than 40 times its average activity over the last three months.

The other scheme is CelloTerra, noticed by DoubleVerify in March 2020. CelloTerra uses mobile apps to run background ads and falsify CTV traffic. CelloTerra ha tripped the number of CTV devices spiked this season.

Also: $6 Million a Month Screensaver CTV Fraud Caught by DoubleVerify

DoubleVerify CEO Mark Zagorski said fraud normally peaks in the fourth quarter, that this years rates are above last years.

“As advertisers shift budgets to CTV inventory and platforms, the need to understand performance and measurability across the channel is now more important than ever,” said Zagorski. “Given the growing complexity of these schemes — with fraudsters continuously employing new techniques, the entities representing or selling fraudulent inventory may not be directly responsible or even understand that fraud is taking place.”

DoubleVerify noted that if advertisers were getting more fraudulent inventory when they buy CTV programmatically, the performance of those campaigns are likely to suffer. 

DoubleVerify added that the advertisers it works with are protected from LeoTerra and CelloTerry by pre-bid avoidance and post-bid monitoring and blocking. ■

DoubleVerify CelloTerra

(Image credit: DoubleVerify)
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.