How MadHive Fights Fraud In OTT

Rebecca Lerner
Dec 10, 2019 · 4 min read

When it comes to fraud, one thing’s for sure: it follows the money. And with global digital ad spend expected to exceed $330 billion in 2019, fraudsters have their eyes on the prize. This year alone, fraudsters will cost advertisers more than $23 billion globally. With the programmatic capabilities of digital coming to TV via streaming services; how can we remedy this problem before it’s too late?

To start, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Fraudsters are leveraging a variety of different methods to funnel money from OTT advertisers — including bots, looping, server side insertion fraud (SSAI), misrepresentation, and spoofing (check out our list of OTT fraud exploits below). MadHive’s most recent research with AdLedger indicates that fraud on OTT is increasing, with analysis showing 20% of OTT ad requests are fraudulent, up from 18% earlier this year.

Unlike much of the digital advertising landscape, CTV is not a javascript-friendly environment, so most traditional methods used in digital or mobile won’t work. To combat the wide variety of fraud already occurring on OTT today, we need out-of-the-box thinking. As we mentioned above, all fraud is not created equal. It takes a variety of techniques to curb attacks. To fight fraud MadHIve employs several layers of defense that leverage forward-thinking technologies, like cryptography, machine learning and automated content recognition (ACR).

Here’s a look under the hood at how we approach fraud detection and elimination at MadHive:

Cryptographic Validation

URLs in ad requests are often visible, making them available for exploitation or manipulation. To prevent this, MadHive uses cryptographic techniques called Zero-Knowledge Proofs on all event URLs to maintain absolute certainty that all data running through the platform hasn’t been altered or exploited by third-parties.

Dynamic Supply-Path Fingerprinting

While most parties build out SPO (Supply Path Optimization) simply to maximize pricing advantage, MadHive dynamically fingerprints the different supply paths including key elements such as publisher IDs, Quartile Pixels, VCR and Price Floors, to not only optimize price but also algorithmically identify any invalid or suspicious supply paths.

Direct VAST Integrations

MadHive leverages direct VAST integrations with publishers to enhance supply path fingerprinting.

Single Stack Solution

MadHive’s entire platform — from the bidder that sees, evaluates and fills ad requests, to our VAST that renders the actual videos in OTT apps — operates on Google Cloud. This gives MadHive unique abilities when fighting geographic misrepresentation fraud. Unlike other vendors, MadHive can identify the exit point (or Google Data Center) closest to where the video ultimately renders. Cross-referencing this location with the ad request in real-time allows MadHive to identify fraudulent requests before bidding begins.

TAG Certified Against Fraud

The Media Rating Council (MRC) has been helping write the playbook to ensure valid, reliable and effective audience measurement services for the digital advertising industry — and they have already developed guidelines for the OTT industry. MadHive earned TAG’s Certified Against Fraud seal in October 2019, a program based on the MRC’s IVT guidelines and designed to create a cleaner, more efficient media supply chain. To achieve this accreditation, MadHive opted for the more rigorous route of working with a third-party auditor to validate that the MRC’s IVT guidelines were successfully integrated into our products.

Continual Improvement & Innovation

As investment in CTV continues to grow, so will fraud. It’s inevitable that fraud will become more sophisticated and new exploits will emerge — and we must evolve with them. MadHive is constantly pressure testing our solutions, working on improvements, and devising new ways to combat fraud.

The industry needs proactive solutions for fraud now. Connected TV ad spend in the US is expected to grow 37.6% this year to $6.94 billion, and reach $10 billion by 2021. But bad actors are everywhere. Our next-generation approach is not only multi-faceted, but it’s constantly evolving to deliver the best fraud detection and prevention solutions available.

Types Of Fraud On OTT

Fraud on OTT takes many forms. And much of the fraud on OTT actually resembles traditional digital advertising fraud.

Here’s a run down of some of the forms of fraud plaguing OTT today:

Bots: Software that crawls the web to index newly created pages into their search results or digital services, and as these bots discover each new page, that page loads its corresponding ad calls for which there is no human viewer.

Sophisticated Bots: Bots have been developed to mimic human behavior. Last year, for instance, Buzzfeed reported on a fraud ring caught buying legitimate apps for the sole purpose of collecting data on how users interacted with them so that they could build bots that copy human behavior more convincingly.

Looping: When the same device or IP address generates more ad requests than can legitimately be viewed by a human during a certain time period. Example: 50 OTT ad requests for 50 different :30 ads within 60 seconds.

Publisher Misrepresentation: Some publishers don’t declare themselves, haven’t rolled out ads.txt, haven’t made their ads.txt file easily locatable or are in ads.txt when they shouldn’t be.

Geography Misrepresentation: Geography is often attested to in ad requests without being verified, and bad actors often misrepresent their activity by masking their foreign locations with US-based IP addresses.

App Spoofing: Similar to domain spoofing dor display advertising, fraudsters hardcode believable, but false bundleIDs for well-known apps into bid requests, rather than dynamically populating the bid request with a real bundleID.

Server-Side Ad Insertion Fraud: Used in close to 40% of OTT ad serving, SSAI creates a loophole for fraudsters. Though it helps eliminate ad blocking, it also opens the door to spoofing. OTT environments lack javascript, making detection by most traditional third-party verifiers impossible.


Programmatic shouldn’t be problematic


MadHive is an enterprise software platform that provides brands, agencies, publishers, and technology companies the infrastructure to power modern media. Learn more at

Rebecca Lerner

Written by

Technology Marketing & Strategy Professional. Mom. 6th generation Californian. #VikingRiverCruises target demo. NYC.


MadHive is an enterprise software platform that provides brands, agencies, publishers, and technology companies the infrastructure to power modern media. Learn more at

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