Digital ad-tech and verification company DoubleVerify announced on Thursday that its Fraud Lab team has discovered a first-of-its-kind large-scale ad impression fraud scheme named ‘’BeatSting’’ that specifically targets audio inventory.
The US-based company, which recently extended its partnership with Elon Musk’s Twitter, said that advertisers that don’t have protection lose up to $1 million every month because of BeatSting.
‘’BeatSting is part of a bigger family of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) fraud schemes that emerged in 2019 and initially targeted connected TV (CTV) inventory,’’ DoubleVerify said in a statement. ‘’In this specific iteration, fraudsters begin by spoofing residential IP addresses and audio apps. At the same time, they also set up fake SSAI servers to falsify audio ad requests, making the inventory attractive to advertisers. If an advertiser bids on this inventory and wins the bid, their ad dollars are wasted on a fraudulent opportunity. And by creating fraudulent inventory, the fraudsters are also siphoning money away from legitimate audio channels.’’
DoubleVerify said that its Fraud Lab team first noticed smaller instances of the ad fraud targeting audio channels back in 2021, which significantly increased in the second quarter of 2022, and saw another spike in January this year.
During its investigation, the company detected more than 60 mobile apps tied to the fraud scheme, some of which include com.digigrad.jazzmusic, com.digitalsquadra.rockmusic, video.games.radio and com.snkdigital.bakaradio.
This is the first time such a fraud scheme is targeting audio platforms at a large-scale, DV’s report emphasizes. Given that digital audio ad spending jumped by 57.9% to $4.9 billion in 2021, fraudsters seem to be trying new ways to get their share of the pie.
“Fraud always follows the money, and increasingly that money is flowing to digital audio, a rapidly emerging channel where digital advertising standards are still evolving,” said DoubleVerify CEO Mark Zagorski. “CTV continues to experience this phenomenon and, increasingly, audio is quietly becoming a new channel of interest and attack.”
DoubleVerify also discovered ViperBot last year, another SSAI ad fraud scheme that targeted connected TV and mobile video ad spend.