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Coming to a TV Near You: Ad Fraud That Costs Marketers Millions

  • Ad industry plays whac-a-mole to tackle fake ad views
  • The $12 billion smart-TV ad market is biggest area of fraud
Smart TV advertising grew 7.4% last year to $12 billion.
Smart TV advertising grew 7.4% last year to $12 billion.Source: Maskot/Getty Images

As billions of consumers binge-watched TV shows during the pandemic, an insidious form of fraud was playing out right under their noses.

Marketers spend millions of dollars to reach audiences glued to internet-connected TVs, but some of that money is ending up in the pockets of scam artists, who’ve devised a complex and hard-to-detect shell game that mixes up where ads appear and who makes money from their placement. This digital switcheroo diverts ads meant for big, high-definition television screens to less expensive platforms, such as smartphones, with thieves pocketing the price difference.