In this guest post, Tiffany Foxwell (main photo), head of client services at Flashtalking JAPAC, says the growing popularity of connected TV (CTV) has created further opportunities for fraudsters to target vulnerabilities in the technology. Foxwell argues that cross-industry collaboration is vital for a sustainable CTV advertising landscape that promotes openness, accountability and transparency…
The monumental rise of Connected Television (CTV) during the pandemic has reshaped marketers’ approach to their omnichannel strategies. It was inevitable that such a fast-growing channel, with the potential for high margins, would become a target for fraudsters. Over the last few months, the global ad industry has seen reports of a number of fraud schemes, largely centered on the tactic of “domain spoofing”.
While ad fraud in the CTV space cannot be taken lightly, the industry already has experience of tackling this issue across other formats, and so there are best practices to follow, and practical ways to keep it from eroding the trust between buyers and sellers working with this critical new medium.
Industry collaboration is vital in the fight against fraud
When learning about new instances of fraud or concerns within the industry, advertisers’ understandable response is to freeze their budgets in that given channel or platform. The industry witnessed this only last year, when global news publishers experienced a significant dip in ad revenues, driven in large part by blocklisting Covid-related content. Although the focus here was on brand safety, the sentiment is the same. Advertisers want their ads placed alongside relevant, quality content that amplifies their messaging and fuels positive connections with their target audiences. Domain spoofing impacts this goal, as it can lead to ads being placed alongside content that’s less reputable than buyers intend, presenting a risk to brand reputation and campaign performance.
Advertisers are in a strong position and can use their spending power to lobby for improvements within the industry. Now is the time to come together to build the infrastructure and processes needed to sustain balance, trust, and transparency in CTV for the future.
There are already tools that support a smart, responsible, and secure buying methodology, which also help marketers to reach their target audience. Such tools are always nuanced and specific, so marketers can proactively open conversations with their advertising partners on how to harness them. Technology will play a critical role in restoring trust, but trust will also play an equally critical role in fostering the right use of the technology.
Creating a dialogue around fraud in CTV right now is vital for publishers, tech companies and advertisers alike. After all, CTV’s share of media consumption is only going to grow.
Setting trust as CTV’s foundation
In the last 18 months, we saw CTV hit an inflection point as TV transitioned from a lean-back medium to an on-demand one. Advertisers want to be a part of this pivot in audience behaviour, but their key challenge might prove to be one of inventory. At present, the user experience and monetisation model of CTV is still developing, meaning this inventory comes at a premium.
As the CTV landscape evolves, so too will the mechanisms that allow for cross-platform purchasing. But without a doubt, advertisers will expect—and demand—that CTV’s premium inventory remains accessible and protected as a valuable element within their media mixes.
Until strong industry standards are in place and widely adopted, responsibility will fall to third-party solutions to authenticate the impression at the source and then again at delivery, providing the confidence from an independent source both pre-bid and post-bid. It’s these solutions that will provide protection today, and that will build the bridge toward a future where such protections are more closely integrated into the media infrastructure. But right now, it’s on buyers and their technology partners to keep vigilant.
Ultimately, collaboration between independent actors and stakeholders on the buy side, as well as the sell side, will lay the long-term foundation for a sustainable CTV advertising landscape. Above all, its foundation must be built on openness, accountability, and transparency. Now is the time for a real collective effort, and the formation of standards that foster trust on all sides.
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