FreeWheel expands deal with White Ops as fraudsters turn their attention to CTV, OTT
Comcast-owned FreeWheel significantly expanded its deal with cyber security outfit White Ops, the companies said Wednesday. The move comes as fraudsters shift their attention away from areas like display and toward emerging channels such as over-the-top and connected TV.
The two companies first began working together in 2017, but at the time White Ops was only checking a random sample of FreeWheel’s inventory for fraud, a common practice as scanning everything is costly.
The new deal, however, allows impressions bought programmatically to be verified as human before a transaction is made.
The duo says the increased security is necessary to instill trust in the space, which is expected to grow 31 percent to $5 billion in 2020, according to estimates from Magna Global. FreeWheel clients include NBC, Hearst, Discovery and A+E.
The notion that bad actors could siphon ad dollars from OTT or CTV was initially regarded as nonsense back when the space was mostly dominated by large multichannel TV programmers. That attitude, however, changed following the arrival of thousands of mid and long-tail publishers into the space, says Neil Smith, general manager of marketplace platform at FreeWheel.
“All those new players brought scale, but it also created a perfect environment for fraudsters to come in and bring strategies they used in desktop and mobile into OTT,” Smith says. “In the last year-and-a-half, we have observed a pretty significant spike in OTT fraud.”
White Ops released a report earlier this month claiming that as much as 28 percent of programmatic CTV traffic was fraud during the month of January.
Specifically, the company says bad actors were masquerading as if they were legitimate publishers such as Roku or Samsung, which in turn duped media buyers into thinking they were reaching a real human. White Ops says for the report it had access to "80 percent of the world" that makes up the CTV space.