Study: Mobile app video fraud up 50% YoY

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Digital media measurement, data and analytic software platform DoubleVerify (DV) has released its 2021 Global Insights Report, an annual study on the current state of digital media quality and performance.

For this year’s Global Insights Report, DV analysed more than one trillion impressions in 80 markets across more than 2,100 brands. The report provides a market-by-market analysis for North America, LatAm, EMEA, and APAC of video and display impressions measured year-over-year (YoY) from May 2020 to April 2021 across desktop and mobile web, mobile app, and CTV.

This year’s report found that many post-bid quality metrics measured and benchmarked by DV are moving in a positive direction, with violation rates decreasing. Both brand suitability and fraud violations are down globally, demonstrating the impact verification technologies are having on cleaning up the supply chain. The increased implementation of pre-bid avoidance by brands has been central to this positive shift.

As programmatic continues to grow in prominence as the dominant buying modality, global advertisers are increasingly activating pre-bid controls – benefiting from protection before ads are purchased, and circumventing post-bid blocks or incidents. Moreover, platform partners, including DSPs and SSPs, have worked diligently with the verification industry to improve inventory quality at large.

“As clearly evidenced by our annual Global Insights Report, the expanded implementation of pre-bid verification filters is having a positive impact on post-bid metrics – bolstering quality throughout the media transaction, eliminating wasted investment, and reducing reliance on post-bid controls such as blocking, ” advises Mark Zagorski, CEO of DoubleVerify. “Programmatic buying is becoming the norm for premium digital advertisers, even in fast growing channels such as CTV; the ability to build confidence in ecosystem inventory is essential to fostering its continued growth.”

Additional key takeaways from the report include:

CTV Verification Volumes Surge in North America – Over the last year, the volume of video ad impressions measured by DV globally has increased 56 per cent. Mobile web, with 104 per cent growth YoY, and CTV, with 87 per cent growth YoY, have driven the trend. In North America, the growth of programmatic buying on CTV has fuelled the demand for verification, as advertisers seek greater transparency across their media buys. In fact, nearly one-third (29 per cent) of all video ad impressions verified are now delivered on CTV devices in North America, making CTV the leading driver of the region’s verified impressions.

Brand Suitability Violations Decline – Globally, post-bid brand suitability rates fell by a modest 4 per cent, likely due to the widespread adoption of pre-bid avoidance tools. DV noted a significant drop in post-bid programmatic block rates as programmatic pre-bid avoidance tools gained traction (from 9.4 per cent in Q1 2019 to 6.0 per cent in Q1 2021). Additionally, keywords make up a smaller share of overall violations, falling from 13 per cent in May 2020 to 7 per cent in April 2021. These changes show a maturing industry, moving beyond keywords to embrace inclusion/exclusion lists, page exception lists and contextual content categories at DV’s guidance.

Fraud/SIVT Rates Down, But Volume Remains Steady – While global post-bid fraud/SIVT violation rates fell overall, volume of infractions remained steady. Pockets of fraud – especially targeting video on mobile app devices, which rose by nearly 50 per cent – continue to plague the industry. Meanwhile, in CTV and streaming, fraud is evolving. In 2020, bot-based fraud drove 78 per cent of all fraud/SIVT violations on CTV. In 2021, that number is down to 44 per cent. Instead, fraud has migrated to data centre traffic, which is now 36 per cent of all CTV fraud/SIVT. With data centre traffic, sophisticated fraudsters may spoof server-side ad insertion inventory (e.g., a mobile impression may be made to look like a CTV impression) or the SSAI inventory lacks certain information, potentially hiding bad actors.

Programmatic Inventory Closes the Quality Gap – Globally, the gap in media quality between programmatic and publisher-direct is closing. For the first time, DV found that the brand suitability violation rate and fraud/SIVT violation rates for programmatic vs. direct publisher buys are within 1 per cent of each other – a big shift from previous years. This is likely due to effort to clean up the programmatic ecosystem, together with the fact that automated ways of buying directly (e.g., Private Marketplaces and Programmatic Guaranteed) have risen in popularity

Low AVOC Rates for Video – Across regions, less than 15 per cent of all video ads are audible and in-view on completion (AVOC). On desktop, North American advertisers have the most opportunity for improvement, with the lowest AVOC rates of any region. Time-in-view for display advertising is on the rise, led by a 20 per cent year on year increase  on mobile apps. AVOC and time-in-view are part of a new class of performance metrics that indicate actual attention from the user. They give advertisers deeper insights into the efficacy of their campaigns, allowing them to optimise to drive desired outcomes.

Pandemic’s Impact on Performance – As part of its Global Insights Report, DV has also created an ‘Attention Index’, evaluating ad ‘Attention’ based on ‘engagement’ and ‘exposure’ metrics. Engagement measures how users interact with ads and exposure quantifies how the ad is displayed on the page. Notably, while campaigns in travel and media and sports had smaller buys, decreasing exposure levels, both still drove better-than-average consumer engagement. Similarly, entertainment advertisers saw higher engagement YoY, despite decreased exposure.

“Now more than ever, global advertisers demand greater clarity and confidence in their digital investments,” adds Zagorski. “Brands want evidence of campaign quality and performance to maximise the effectiveness of online advertising. This report reflects the key challenges affecting the ad ecosystem globally – benchmarking the industry at large, while offering in-depth data and analytics to help brands optimise digital strategies.”

 


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