DoubleVerify: Gen AI Driving Significant Increase in New Ad Fraud Schemes and Variants

DV Fraud Lab found an over 20% surge in new fraud schemes including an almost 60% increase in audio and video streaming fraud schemes and variants

DoubleVerify (“DV”), the leading software platform for digital media measurement, data, and analytics, today announced a preview of findings from its eighth annual Global Insights Report, which analyzes media quality and performance trends across more than one trillion impressions from over 2,000 brands in 100 markets. The findings underscore a significant year-over-year increase in new fraud schemes, with fraudsters shifting their focus to platforms and channels like Connected TV (CTV) and streaming audio.

In 2023, DV’s research revealed a 23% surge in new fraud schemes and variants compared to the previous year, according to the DV Fraud Lab. Additionally, unprotected advertisers saw a fraud/SIVT (Sophisticated Invalid Traffic) violation rate as high as 17%. These violations include incidents of bot fraud, site fraud, app fraud, hijacked devices, nonhuman data center traffic and injected ad events, all of which illegitimately inflate online advertising impressions or data events to generate revenue.

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“With AI, attackers can generate thousands of seemingly authentic user agents, which retrieve and facilitate end-user interaction with web content. Attackers may then further use AI to mimic human behavior, making the pattern of bot traffic more difficult to detect.”

A key factor for the increase – Generative AI. DV has found that Gen AI makes it easier to falsify data patterns.

“Bot fraud, for example, commonly targets streaming environments such as CTV and audio, where fraudsters rely on falsified impression data to make it look like ads are delivering to real users,” said Roy Rosenfeld, Head of the DV Fraud Lab. “With AI, attackers can generate thousands of seemingly authentic user agents, which retrieve and facilitate end-user interaction with web content. Attackers may then further use AI to mimic human behavior, making the pattern of bot traffic more difficult to detect.”

Bad actors are not just using AI to grow their schemes; DV also found that falsified impression schemes are evolving more quickly. The average bot fraud scheme targeting streaming platforms spawned 269% more variants in 2023, for a total of 58% more streaming fraud schemes and variants in the year.

AI also makes it easier for bad actors to set up new websites for shell companies and publish new apps with dozens of fake reviews that create the illusion of an audience. Investigations into mobile app schemes revealed a heavy reliance on these types of deceptive tactics. AI makes this type of falsification increasingly simple to generate. As a result, DV’s mobile app fraud investigations doubled in 2023.

“Fortunately,” added Rosenfeld, “good AI can be used to fight bad AI. DV, for example, leverages AI to process vast amounts of data daily and assess impression quality. Machine learning efficiently processes data in real time. AI then identifies trends and patterns that would be invisible to a human analyst who is not using advanced AI techniques. As the fraudsters grow more sophisticated through AI, it’s imperative that we also use AI to protect against their schemes.”

Method: The report employs DV technology to analyze over one trillion impressions from over 2,000 brands in 100 markets, both pre and post-bid, and offers a detailed market-by-market analysis for North America, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC. It covers video and display impressions from January to December 2023 across desktop, mobile web, mobile app, and connected TV (CTV). The study also includes a global survey conducted by Sapio, polling 1,000 advertisers across North America, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC.

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