Home Did you know ? CTV Ad Fraud: Everything You Need to Know

CTV Ad Fraud: Everything You Need to Know

by Mic Johnson

Ad fraud costs billions annually and poses a massive threat to the industry. Since CTV advertising is becoming the most popular form of advertising, the danger of CTV ad fraud is rising too.

CTV ad fraud costs not only money but also time and trust. And it isn’t only the advertisers who are affected because publishers also bear the brunt of ad fraud.

Connected TV ads are one of the most effective ways to market businesses, products and services, and millions of brands rely on them. But unfortunately, CTV fraud is one of the biggest threats to the industry, so we’ll be looking at the problem and solutions in-depth!

Reasons for CTV Ad Fraud

While online fraud is widespread and affects all industries, there does seem to be an exceptionally high rate of CTV ad fraud lately. There are several reasons for this.

  • The fragmented landscape: Because of the large number of providers and elements, fraudsters have many places to be deceptive and use misdirection to fool advertisers. This highlights the importance of avoiding criminal deception by using credible service providers who don’t outsource any functionality.
  • High stakes: The CPM is often higher for CTV than for linear TV, which has caused more cyber-criminals to try and steal a piece of this very lucrative pie. While the chances of getting caught are always a factor, the more money made by doing the crime usually provides more incentive, no matter how likely the chances of being caught are.
  • Lack of regulation: CTV has grown in leaps and bounds, and its unprecedented popularity hasn’t allowed a lot of time for the industry to draw up sufficient governing legislation. If there’s one thing that cyber-criminals love, it’s a fertile, new, and ungoverned landscape to take advantage of.


The most common type of CTV fraud is spoofing – disguising a signal from fraudulent activity as a legitimate source. The game aims to make advertisers pay more than they should because of fraudulently inflated views and impressions. There are various types of spoofing.

  • IP spoofing: Attackers disguise themselves as different IP addresses to create fraudulent traffic. It is estimated that around 28% of all web traffic comes from fraudulent bots and other “non-human” signals.
  • Device spoofing: Attackers disguise the actual device they’re using and then click on ads and fill forms on websites. Usually, many clicks coming from a single device would indicate fraud.
  • SDK spoofing: Software Development Kit spoofing is when app installations, purchases and clicks are mimicked using the software. As a result, the advertiser pays much more than what the advertising is worth based on the fake data received.
  • Server-side-ad-insertion (SSAI) spoofing: SSAI facilitates the insertion of ads into OTT videos. This is known as stitching. Using weak points in this new technology, fraudsters send out multiple fake ad requests while pretending to be CTV devices.

Recent CTV Ad Schemes

  • MultiTerra: This botnet created fraudulent inventory in CTV and mobile environments.
  • SneakyTerra: The first server-side ad insertion (SSAI) scheme known to hijack actual CTV device sessions.
  • LeoTerra/StreamScam: “StreamScam” highlighted a common approach to CTV fraud related to SSA. Fraudsters set up counterfeit SSAI servers and then manufacture CTV inventory across many apps, IPs and devices.
  • ParrotTerra: This CTV fraud scheme dubbed “ParrotTerra” showcased a scheme where fraudsters set up counterfeit SSAI servers to generate fake CTV inventory across countless apps, IPs and devices.

How To Avoid CTV Ad Fraud

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this ever-increasing CTV ad threat.

  • Choose the right provider: There are many options, and several providers don’t follow a strict protocol that helps avoid fraud. Most importantly, you need to be able to track your campaigns, so make sure that your provider facilitates this.
  • Establish and agree on KPIs: You need to establish your KPIs beforehand and communicate them clearly to all CTV partners. That way, all partners are on the same page.
  • Use third-party Ad Verification Vendors: These services ensure that you are not involved with fraudulent providers by using verification tags and regular reporting.
  • Make use of unique identifiers: There is a growing movement to use unique identifiers for all CTV devices. The identifiers are sent to the publisher’s OTT apps and ad servers and can be used to track your ads at every stage.

CTV advertising is one of the most effective tools in your marketing toolkit and is indispensable for today’s businesses. While CTV fraud might create weariness and concern for all parties involved, there are many effective ways to avoid it.

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