DoubleVerify’s Fraud Lab has uncovered a new connected TV advertising fraud scheme which causes screensavers to hijack CTV devices to generate impressions — even when the screen is off.
The scheme, dubbed “SmokeScreen,” operates through fraudulent apps that offer screensavers to users. SmokeScreen primarily targets users with external CTV devices, like gaming consoles or streaming sticks, which are not built into the CTV console and need a separate power source from the screen or TV itself. Even after a user has turned their TV screen off, the CTV device remains on. This is how SmokeScreen is able to continue serving ads using falsified data, even after a user had stopped watching their TV.
"CTV ad fraud doesn’t just impact advertisers,” Roy Rosenfeld, head of DoubleVerify's Fraud Lab, said in a statement. “It’s harmful for the entire ecosystem — siphoning revenue from high-quality CTV publishers and app developers, as well as streaming platforms.”
DoubleVerify’s Fraud Lab estimates that so far SmokeScreen has impacted nearly 10,000 devices daily and generated up to 10 million fraudulent requests each day. With CTV CPMs — the cost to reach 1,000 views — averaging $20, and with SmokeScreen generating more than 300 million ad requests each month, that adds up to over $6 million in false impressions.