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DoubleVerify exposes audio ad fraud scheme

Digital media measurement platform DoubleVerify (DV) has used a combination of AI-powered tech and human review to uncover an audio fraud scheme which utilises dedicated servers to falsify traffic.

Through ‘FM Scam,’ which comes just months after the DV Fraud Lab exposed the ‘BeatSting’ audio fraud scheme, fraudsters are able to blend their invalid traffic (IVT) with legitimate traffic by spoofing devices typically used for playing audio content. DV estimates that fraudsters spoofed more than 500,000 devices, including mobile phones, tablets, connected TV devices, audio players, smartwatches, and smart speakers.

The IVT is auctioned through supply side platforms, exchanges and ad networks, generating up to 100 million ad requests every month. While defrauding advertisers, fraudsters are also impacting the yield of quality audio sellers by syphoning money away from those legitimate channels.

“Audio is rapidly becoming a lucrative target for fraudsters,” said Jack Smith, Chief Innovation Officer at DoubleVerify. “The range of players and devices used to stream audio content sets this environment apart from other media types. Fraudsters tend to focus on emerging media, like audio, that attracts advertising investments but lacks comprehensive measurement standards.”

At the combined peaks of FM Scam and BeatSting, unprotected advertisers were hit for more than $1 million in spend monthly.

Where the two schemes differ is that BeatSting switches between devices after generating a certain number of impressions, while FM Scam creates longer, uninterrupted sessions. As such, the FM Scam scheme was able to present a more human-like traffic pattern.

FM Scam was first detected by DV in 2019, when IP addresses used by the attack were tied to a CTV scheme. Since then, DV has been continuously mitigating attacks and shutting down new variants of the scheme.

*DoubleVerify is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, publisher of NDA

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