Akshit Pushkarna

DoubleVerify detects fraudulent activities in audio media industry

Nachiket Deole, head of sales, India, DoubleVerify, explains how the ad verification company identified such activities targeting audio channels.

Ad verification company DoubleVerify (DV) recently detected fraudulent activities in the audio media industry. The company measures media quality for its customers, i.e., brand advertisers.

Nachiket Deole, head of sales, India, DoubleVerify, tells afaqs! that the company’s ad fraud detection infrastructure detected a dramatic increase in fraudulent activity targeting audio channels.

“This is the first time a fraud scheme, now known as ‘BeatSting’, has generated fake audio traffic at scale through large audio platforms. It involves generating fake audio traffic to boost viewership count. The spike in this activity was observed back in January 2023.”

Deole shares that the company has measured and identified fraud across digital and audio ad traffic. Explaining how the fraudulent activities are happening, he says, “If you run an audio or radio jingle, a campaign appears with a display companion banner on the app of the streaming platform. Fraud happens across both the companion banner as well as audio.”

BeatSting is a part of the company’s family of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) fraud schemes. Audio SSAI falsification works like SSAI fraud on CTV, Deole mentions. 

Fraudsters first spoof residential IP addresses and audio apps, while setting up fake SSAI servers to falsify audio ad requests. This makes it seem like the apps have users and inventory on which advertisers would want to bid. These requests then go out to supply side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges/networks. 

If advertisers win a bid on this inventory through any of these platforms, their ad dollars are wasted on a fraudulent opportunity. By creating fraudulent inventory, fraudsters effectively siphon money away from legitimate audio channels.

“The DV Fraud Lab experts use advanced machine learning and algorithms to quickly identify and flag spoofed traffic generated via rogue SSAI servers. In this case, the Lab observed an abnormally high volume of traffic, with anomalous patterns across the spoofed apps. In other cases, apps that hadn’t been updated for a long time and didn’t have relevant audio content, were generating a suspicious volume of audio traffic,” Deole informs.

There are multiple other fraud schemes in the audio space that the company has identified. Deole mentions another method that is being employed for fraudulent activities. It includes the use of emulators. With this, one device is emulated across thousands of others and, thus, the number of views, multiplies.

These fraudulent activities are prevalent on streaming platforms where the content as well as the number of creators on the platform, are rising significantly.

DoubleVerify has been trying to help its clients in detecting this fraud. Deole informs that it measures the quality of an ad inventory offered by a platform on four aspects.

“One is whether it’s brand safe inventory, whether it’s comfortably viewable, fraud free, and whether that impression on an inventory that they’re buying, is going in the intended viewership. If every single impression that they’re buying passes through these four criteria, then we qualify it as a quality impression.”

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