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Even As Digital Audio Faces Fraud Risk, Report Finds Online Ad Fraud Is Stabilizing.

This spring, the ad software platform Double Verify announced it had for the first time detected the first case of digital audio-targeted ad fraud. What may have come as a wake-up call to audio companies is part of a larger problem online. Double Verify’s annual report on the state of digital ads finds that the total number of newly-discovered fraud schemes actually doubled from 2020 to 2022. But overall, Collette Spagnolo, VP Marketing Analytics at Double Verify, says fraud and sophisticated invalid traffic decreased for the third consecutive year. At the same time, their benchmark brand suitability violation rate has remained at 7.1%. That is down from 7.8% in 2020 and 7.5% in 2019.

“Fraud protections certainly mitigate the damage the fraudsters can do,” Spagnolo said. “But the protections don't actually stop them from concocting use schemes that are aimed at siphoning ad spend,” she said on a webinar Monday.

Double Verify’s work in audio is just beginning, with much of its efforts focused on digital video and website ads. It says viewability rates have consistently increased between 2019 and 2022 with 69% of display ads viewable and 74% of video ads viewable. “Brands’ suitability, fraud, and viewability seem to be stabilizing or improving,” Spagnolo said.

Things are actually a bit better in the U.S. where Double Verify says for the first time the market crossed the 70% viewability threshold for both display and video ads. And the U.S. fraud violation rate fell four percent during the past year.

To prove to big brands that spending money on ad monitoring services like Double Verify is worth it, the company ran a test campaign. When it was unmanaged, the client wound up with 367% more ad fraud – which means on those days nearly one out of every four impressions was wasted. The unmanaged campaign also had a 94% brand suitability score. That means six percent of its ads were alongside content that it did not want to be associated with. Double Verify calculates for every billion impressions on an unmanaged campaign, $121,000 is lost to ad fraud with another $199,000 spent on inventory deemed unsuitable for the brand.

In March, Double Verify announced it had discovered BeatSting or what is believed to be the first large-scale ad impression fraud scheme to target digital audio inventory. It estimated that BeatSting is responsible for costing unprotected advertisers up to $1 million per month.

Spagnolo said audio is one of the “new places” that fraudsters are targeting, along with connected TV. “All of these new platforms present new ways to engage with audiences for advertisers. But the channels are not immune to quality concerns, not least because they perform differently from other media types,” she said.

Shannon Brungs Hartmann, Director of Programmatic Buying at the data insights company 84.51˚ which counts Kroger among its clients, said that is why they have found it “absolutely imperative” to embrace ad verification to ensure the highest level of media quality across all facets of their digital media activations.

“As we navigate this marketplace, unfortunately, there isn't a one size fits all,” Hartmann said. “But I actually see that as a positive because brands have a unique opportunity to calibrate based on their needs and resonance in market for the way they want to be positioned to ensure that you're maximizing efficiencies without minimizing market impact.”

The data in Double Verify’s 2023 Global Insights Report is based on 5.5 trillion media transactions across 1,000 customers in nearly 100 countries. Download the full report HERE.

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