DoubleVerify Global Insights Report: Fraudsters Flock to Connected Television (CTV)

DoubleVerify (“DV”), a leading software platform for digital media measurement, data, and analytics, released its 2020 Global Insights Report, providing a market-by-market benchmark on the state of media quality for global advertisers. With an in-depth analysis of brand suitability, fraud, viewability, and performance, the report addresses key issues that advertisers face today as they seek to maximize return on their digital investments. The report also offers a view on emerging trends  — including the sharp rise in CTV fraud, and an increase in the rate of brand suitability incidents on mobile app inventory — that may impact the way advertisers think about cross-channel marketing, targeting, privacy and more.

“Brands are increasingly demanding greater clarity and confidence in their digital investments, as well as evidence of campaign performance that drives real business outcomes,”  said Mark Zagorski, CEO of DoubleVerify. “This report reflects the critical challenges affecting the ad ecosystem worldwide, giving us the data needed to work together to find solutions.”

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CTV Booms . . . and Fraud Follows

CTV has become the fastest growing digital media channel and, not surprisingly, the highest growth environment for fraud. Since March 2019, DV has identified 1,300 fraudulent CTV apps. This bad behavior shows no sign of waning — over 60% of those 1,300 fraudulent apps were detected in 2020 alone. DoubleVerify also detected a 161% increase in fraudulent CTV traffic rates in Q1of 2020 vs. Q1 of 2019. Moreover, while bot fraud accounted for 26% of fraud incidents overall, it was responsible for a whopping 78% of fraud incidents on CTV.

“Fraud follows ad spend — especially within emerging channels like CTV, where measurement technologies are not widely adopted and demand outstrips supply,” said Zagorski. “It’s interesting to note that bot traffic, the most basic type of fraud, is back in this high-growth environment — which means it’s manageable. We expect CTV will continue to be a strategic area of focus and innovation for the company, as we see the opportunity to develop new performance metrics to build media buyers’ confidence and help accelerate the shift of linear TV dollars to CTV.”

DV also found that while CTV fraud impacts both programmatic and direct buying channels, inventory transacted through DV-certified programmatic marketplaces saw the lowest incidence of fraud, followed by direct and other programmatic supply. In fact, Non-certified programmatic CTV saw a Fraud Rate over 11x higher than CTV transacted through DV-certified marketplaces, and approximately 9x higher than publisher-direct buys.

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Brand Suitability Block Rate Drops 3% YOY

Globally, the overall Brand Suitability Rate increased by 14% YoY to 7.6%. This describes all brand suitability violations — including both impressions that were blocked, and those that were measured and found to be outside of a brand’s suitability parameters. While the Brand Suitability Incident Rate increased across all devices year-on-year, the increase was most notable on the mobile app (+32%) — but increases were also seen on mobile web (+19%) and desktop (+17%).

The Brand Suitability Block Rate, which describes instances in which advertisers elected to block their ads from serving, also increased for mobile app (+7%) but declined for mobile web (-5%) and desktop (-4%) — resulting in an overall Block Rate decline of 3% year-on-year.

“This is occurring as brands are becoming more sophisticated and nuanced in how they execute their suitability policies, with a growing awareness of the need to balance brand protection with the ability to scale and support trusted publishers,” said Dan Slivjanovski, CMO of DoubleVerify.

DV’s analysis of ad performance across content verticals found that News content had the highest Engagement Index (122), outpacing Sports (112), Personal Finance (111), Technology and Computing (86), and Music (77), among others. Engagement is a measure of end-user interaction with the device, content, or ad, and is part of DV’s predictive performance solution for advertisers, called Authentic Performance.

“We encourage brands for whom news is suitable to strongly consider continued support of trusted news publishers within their media plans — further supported by the high user engagement associated with this content,” said Slivjanovski. “That means refining the use of reach-extending tools like page exceptions that allow advertisers to run on high-value, high-volume news sites and entry pages — like home pages — to maximize scale without compromising protection. Advertisers increasingly are activating more sophisticated and precise suitability settings to ensure brand protection without jeopardizing campaign delivery or reach.”

DV’s brand suitability solution combines deep expertise in ontology with advanced machine learning to drive accurate classification of a page based on its content, context, and tone. DV’s classification system analyzes millions of pages per day, precisely cataloging more than 40 million pieces of content across 75-plus safety and suitability categories. It spans web, mobile app, and CTV environments, and provides classification at the most granular level. With over 10 years of experience in creating classification categories, DV is the established expert in building brand suitability tools that meet the needs of today’s advertisers.

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