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Programmatic video ad fraud: Over 20% of OTT impressions are invalid

Nov 8, 2017 12:08:04 PM

"Fraudsters are pivoting to video, which is bad news for publishers looking to siphon cash from the growing pot of video ad spend," wrote Digiday in a recent article overviewing the state of video ad fraud. 

According to eMarketer, digital video ad spend will reach $15.42 billion this year, rising to $22.18 billion by 2021. But despite this rosy outlook, invalid traffic remains a concern, and the fraudsters are set to profit if marketers don't get smarter about the risks of ad fraud in video.

Video is a cross-device, cross-screen form of entertainment, and the fraudsters are active in all mediums. 

Invalid Traffic (IVT) rates for video ads vary across devices

October-video-IVT-rates-Pixalate-digiday.jpgVideo IVT rates highest for Connected TV/OTT: Over 20%

  • Over one-in-five (20.4%) of programmatically-sold Connected TV/OTT video emarketer-programmatic-tv-spend.jpgads in October 2017 were measured as invalid, according to Pixalate research.
  • Of these invalid impressions, the vast majority (96.3%) were Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT).

Nearly 97% of Connected TV/OTT ads are video. This is a premium format and can draw extremely high CPMs, which attract fraudsters.

According to eMarketer, programmatic TV ad spend will nearly double from $1.13 billion this year to $2.09 billion in 2018. It will then rise to $3.8 billion in 2019.

Marketers should shore up their Connected TV/OTT anti-fraud practices, or else the pending boom in ad spend will cause a lot of money to be lost to fraudsters.

Desktop video IVT rates just under 9%

  • Just under one-in-10 (8.89%) of desktop video ads served via programmatic were invalid in October 2017, according to Pixalate's research.
  • Of these invalid impressions, 71.7% were Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT)

Mobile in-app video IVT rates at 8%, while mobile web checks in just below 5%

  • Mobile was a tale of two environments: In-app video ads were invalid just under 8% of the time, according to Pixalate's October 2017 research.
  • Programmatic mobile web video ads had a still-notable 4.31% invalid traffic rate, though it was nearly half the amount of mobile in-app invalid activity.
  • 86.1% of invalid impressions for mobile web video were measured as SIVT
  • 91.1% of invalid impressions for mobile app video were measured as SIVT

The size of video ad fraud depends on the environment

As Pixalate's data research into October 2017 programmatic video trends reveals, IVT for video ads can vary greatly depending on the device and environment.

Notably, Connected TV/OTT — one of the environments set for the largest increase in video ad spend over the next half-decade — is one of the riskiest in terms of invalid traffic.

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